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Sweet times continue for Bland Farms

Article by Produce News

While Glennville, GA-based Bland Farms has been successful growing onions for nearly 30 years, Delbert Bland, president and owner of the company, is excited about the opportunities that adding sweet potatoes to the mix has brought.

“Onions are our main forte, we do sweet onions 365 days a year from all different regions, but sweet potatoes have really come on in the last 4-5 years and is doing extremely well,” he told The Produce News. “For the present and future, we plan to be in both the sweet potato and sweet onion business.”

Since first adding sweet potatoes to its operation, Bland Farms has increased its acreage continuously, and will be up to 2,000 acres in 2017. Combine that with the 3,000 acres of Vidalia, 1,500 acres in Peru, 300 acres in Mexico and 150 acres in Texas, and there’s plenty of optimism throughout the company.

“There are extremely exciting health benefits of both and the two products are growing tremendously,” Bland said. “We look forward to both because people are excited about both.”

Business in 2016 has been solid, with average yields and pack on both sweet onions and sweet potatoes. The crops themselves are better than last year.

“The Vidalia onions have been very good this year, and Peru’s onion crop is excellent. Overall, the crop has been fantastic,” he said. “The demand is just right.”

The model for growing both made sense to Bland since it fits his business model and infrastructure.

“To grow sweet potatoes, you need land and you can plant behind the onion crop after you harvest the onions,” he said.

“It works well for us because we have all these bin boxes and storage rooms available to put sweet potatoes in,” he added. “It helps to keep the overhead down because we now have two major crops that we are working with.”