|3 Harvest-Ready Signs for Your Onions ||May 2013|
One of the most common questions we get is, "How will I know my onions are ready to harvest?"
One way is by keeping track of the number of leaves on your onion plants. While 13 is the ideal number of onion leaves, some onion varieties may mature with fewer leaves than that. When your plants reach at least seven leaves, start watching them carefully. There will be three key physical signs that your onions are mature and should be harvested.
1. Soft Neck
When the area right above the neck (the place where the leaves meet the bulb) starts feeling soft, the transfer of carbohydrates from the leaves to the rings has finished, and the final cell division within the rings has occurred. At this stage, you should water less frequently, to prevent sour skin and black mold occurring in wet soils.
2. Tops Falling Over
When some of the tops fall over, this reflects 100% soft neck, even though not all the tops are down. If you are planning to consume the onions right away, this is the earliest stage they can be harvested
and the tops cut off. There is good skin development at this stage, and adequate green tops to prevent sunscald during drying.
When all the tops are down, the onion is finished pulling sugars out of the top and moisture out of its roots. But skin development will continue to occur. If growing for storage, a light last watering should take place, to allow onions to respire some moisture before harvest. For sweeter onions, give them a moderate final watering.
3. Last Leaf
Examine all the leaves, particularly the most recent one to appear (last leaf). The leaf sheaths mature and dry from the oldest to the youngest leaf. If you pull the onions from the soil before the last leaf is dry, rot could occur during storage. The neck cavity or top of the onion should not be sunken or soft before lifting the onions out of the soil.
It's best to remove your onions in the morning, before the worst of the heat and direct sunlight occur.
After Lifting Your Onions
Now that your plants are out of the soil, you'll want them to last as long as possible. This requires thorough drying and curing. For a quick rundown of the process, check this newsletter's Q&A Section.
Happy harvests, everyone!
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Texas Jumbo Sweet Onions
We're offering up something really special: a ten-pound box of our very best Texas jumbo sweet onions. We hand select only the largest, sweetest onions available, and include our favorite onion recipes along with them. Not only are these onions great for your own table, they make an awesome culinary gift. You can't beat the price of just $21.95 for one box; and if you order two or more, you can get them for just $20.95 per box.
Remember, these onions ship only in the month of May. Get 'em while you can!
From Our Friends
Back-to-Back Best of Show
In this photo, Mike Maurer of Rio Rancho, New Mexico shows off a photo of his Dixondale Candy Onions, which won Best of Show at the Sandoval County Fair in both 2011 and 2012. And no wonder. Excellent job, Mike!
Got some onion-related photos to share? Click here for submission tips. You just might see your photo in a future newsletter!
| Around The Farm
Dixondale in the News
Dixondale Farms was featured in the latest Texas Farm Bureau Table Top blog post. Check it out here.
And this has nothing to do with onions, but touched our family personally. The Carrizo Springs Javelin asked our daughter Becca to write an article about the 2013 Boston Marathon tragedy, since she and other family members were there. Thankfully, they returned home safe.
|Cooking With Onions
Chilled Salmon Salad with Orange Citrus Onions
Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Portion red onion onto salmon filets and press on evenly with back of spoon. Pour wine into 10-inch skillet and heat until bubbling at the edges. Set salmon in wine, return liquid to a gentle boil and cover. Let cook gently without turning for 6 or 7 minutes or until salmon is cooked through and topping is rosy. Chill fish and liquid.
For Orange Citrus Onions: Heat oil in a large skillet, add yellow onions and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden. Remove from heat and mix in orange and lime peels and orange juice. Cover and chill.
To serve, portion lettuce onto 4 plates. Top with salmon filets. Lift onions from liquid with slotted spoon or fork and top salmon. Spoon juice from onions over salmon and lettuce. Garnish with dill. Makes 4 servings.
Recipe courtesy of The National Onion Association. If you have a recipe you'd like us to print, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q & A: After the Harvest
Q. What do I do with my onions after they're pulled from the soil?
A. It's now time for drying and curing.
Drying Indoors or Out
First, cover the bulb of one onion with the tops of another, which will allow the onions to respire their excess moisture and to dry the roots. Placing the dry leaves over adjacent bulbs will also prevent sunscald. Drying may take several days if it takes place outdoors. If you expect rain, dry your onions indoors. Spread them out in a well ventilated area with room to breathe. Drying indoors may take longer than outdoors.
Planning on eating the onions right away? Then you can clip the tops to one inch, clip the roots, and enjoy! For storage onions, curing must take place first.
Curing Before Clipping
If you're planning to store your onions long-term, they'll need curing before clipping. Curing removes excess moisture from the storage area and the onion bulbs. Air movement is beneficial, especially if the air can be expelled outside the storage area. A fan set on low should be sufficient in most cases. Direct the flow of air from one side, and allow the moisture-laden air to escape.
The drying and curing process should take from 4-10 days to complete. Ultimately, the entire neck should be dry, all the way to the surface of the onion, and shouldn't slide when you pinch it. The skin will take on a uniform texture and color when properly cured.
Clip the roots with shears and cut back the tops to one inch. Now they're ready to eat or store.
Fun Onion Facts
The people of India are very serious about their alliums, recognizing the important contributions that both onions and garlic make to their world-famous cuisine. In 1994, the Indian government established a National Research Centre for Onion and Garlic, which evolved into the Directorate of Onion and Garlic Research in 2008.
Here in the U.S., we have our USDA agricultural extension offices and private organizations like the National Onion Association, and they do a great job. But imagine having a government agency devoted entirely to onions and garlic!
All Your Questions Answered
We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click the link for information on when to order your onions and how to find your frost and freeze dates, as well as for tips on planting, caring, feeding, harvesting, and storing them.
Harvesting -- and knowing when and how to harvest -- is a big part of onion growing, so it's no surprise that we've received quite a few harvesting and post- harvesting pictures over the years. While they may not be cleaned and prettied up yet, there's nothing quite like an onion fresh out of the ground, so full of beauty and promise! And deliciousness, too.
Of course you can't eat all of them right away, which is why the drying and curing process is so important. We onion growers have that advantage over so many others, in that we can store our crops and enjoy fresh onions for months to come, as long as we take a little care in the process.
Got some pictures to share? Send 'em our way!
Join Us On Facebook!
Join the community of friends and growers on our Facebook page! You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, photos, recipes, and even weather information and other tips. And be sure to check out our short videos, on topics ranging from how onion plants are harvested to how onions deal with cold weather.
Dixondale Farms customer Todd Henry has shared a great weed control tip with us. To learn more, check out this entry from April 30.
And remember -- if you're looking to make a unique fashion statement and join us as we celebrate 100 years of business at one and the same time, you can buy one of our spiffy new Centennial T-shirts!