Bland Farms, located in Glennville, GA, and one of the larger growers and shippers of sweet onions, continues to lead innovation in the farming industry. For Delbert Bland and his family, farming is a way of life. Bland Farms has been instrumental in growing the Vidalia brand, including incorporating Vidalia sweet onions into processed foods, and a mail order business in the late 1980s introduced the Vidalia name to markets west of the Mississippi River.
Today, Bland Farms represents a large portion of the overall Vidalia crop. Recognizing and acting on the rising demand for sweet onions, Delbert expanded production outside of the Peach State, both domestically and internationally, including Texas, California, Peru and Mexico. These strategic growing partnerships have proven themselves to be extremely valuable, allowing Bland Farms to supply sweet onions year-round.
Bland Farms utilizes numerous storage facilities for its products, many of them in remote locations. A new computer monitoring system allows for the team to better manage the temperature and humidity at the storage facilities by receiving alerts via cell phone when adjustments need to be made. This allows for more precise monitoring as well as the ability to expedite corrections.
Sorting of the products has also changed dramatically at Bland Farms where a unique high-speed sorter allows for customized orders, often filled the same day. Sorting is programmed by weight, size, color and external appearance by this unique machine. The machine can take 20 pictures per onion, 10 per second and sort quickly and efficiently. This allows Bland Farms to better meet the needs of its customers by providing customized orders in a timely manner.
Although planting and harvesting is still done by hand, Bland Farms was one of the first to move from bags to boxes in the field during harvest. It changed collections from 50-pound bags to bin boxes that are then transported via forklift through the process of field to facility, allowing for less handling of the onions, resulting in less bruising. Bland was also one of the first in the industry to use a high-graphic label box and to apply PLU stickers on onions.