This summer we have received quite a few questions asking about why onion bolt and what to do with the onions once bolting has occurred. Unfortunately, due to the strange weather patterns this spring and summer, there has been an unusually high number of onions that bolted in our customers' crops. Read on to learn about causes and prevention.
We hope our customers are soaking up the sun this summer while staying cool!
Bruce "The Onionman" and Jeanie Frasier
Bolting: Causes and Prevention
If you have growing questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
Contact Customer Service at (830) 876-2430 or email
Bolting in Alliums
Bolting can be a problem with onions, leeks, and related species, and generally occurs in response to cold weather stress. Sustained temperatures of less than 45° F may result in bolting with as few as five leaves present. If the temperature falls below 50° F for two weeks or more, mature plants with 7-10 leaves will bolt. A cold, wet spring followed by a hot summer can also result in bolting.
The transplants you receive from Dixondale Farms usually have four leaves; the fifth will appear out of the center of the onion about four weeks after transplanting. Larger transplants tend to be more susceptible to bolting, since they reach this critical period sooner.
Besides planting time, onions and leeks also face a critical period about two months later, as the plant sends out more leaves. Cool weather during either of these periods may trick your plants into thinking they've gone through the two growing seasons necessary for them to completely mature. The result is the premature development of a seed stalk.
How to Avoid Bolting
There are several things you can try to avoid bolting. First of all, match the proper onion variety with your growing region, particularly in terms of day-length. Next, do your best to plant your onion plants at the proper time. You can't control the weather, but your plants are least likely to bolt if you get them in at the right time. With spring of 2019 coming much later for many of our customers, this has not helped the bolting issue. Be careful not to over-fertilize, too, because overly vigorous growth may result in bolting. So can soil that is too loose; if the plant thinks the ground has been disturbed, it may respond by trying to spread its seed.
Dealing With Plants That Have Bolted
The development of flower stalks and seeds supersedes bulb development in onions and leeks, so the bulb simply isn't going to develop any further. You might as well pull it up and enjoy it while you can. You can't store bolted bulbs, either, because the seed stalk exits the top of the bulb, weakening it and leaving a place where bacteria can set in.
We hope this helps you with the bolting issue. Be careful with your planting date, onion type, soil and fertilizers, and pull and eat any onions or leeks as soon as they bolt. If you have any questions on the subject that we haven't covered here, don't hesitate to ask!
For the past several seasons, Miller Career and Technology Center Culinary Program has been using Dixondale Farms onion transplants in their garden.
Russell Faldyn, head of the program, writes, "Here are the culinary chefs with their onion harvest. The students had an onion ring cook off with their crop. Absolutely great onion crop for the culinary classes, and a great science lesson!
We had over twenty five different presentations of onion rings from Dixondale onions. The mozzarella stuffed and southern flares, stuffed with spicy sausage, were eye catchers. Kids created their own recipes and dipping sauces."
We think this is a wonderful program for kids to get involved with growing and cooking their own food and are certainly impressed with their 2019 crop! We look forward to providing Miller Career and Technology Center with many more years of onion plants.
Share Your Photos with Us!
We offer numerous products to help you fertilize and protect your onions. All our
fertilizers and weed-and-feed products come in resealable 4 lb. and 12 lb. bags.
Start your plants off right with our
Dixondale Farms Onion Special 10-20-10
to help establish their root systems. Our unique fertilizer is blended to include all of the micro-nutrients that onions require for optimal bulb formation. Both 4 lb. and 12 lb. bags are available.
4 lb. bags start at $19.95.
Once your plants are established, feed them
Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer 21-0-0
to maximize growth and bulbing potential. This will help your onions generate more foliage and, therefore, more rings and larger bulbs. Both 4 lb. and 12 lb. bags are available. 4 lb. bags start at $19.95.
Keep your onion plants disease free. We offer
Mancozeb Fungicide with Zinc
to help control diseases such as downy and powdery mildew, blight, neck rot, and botrytis. This product is a broad spectrum, protectant fungicide that prevents fungal and bacterial spores from forming on your leaves. Spray this product as a protectant on a weekly basis 3 weeks after planting up until 2 weeks before harvest. Use as
needed in the event of wet weather.
One pint starts at $19.95.
Protect your organic onion crops with
OxiDate Organic Fungicide
. OxiDate offers powerful disease control by killing fungal and bacterial spores on contact while remaining eco-friendly. May be used as a preventative and curative treatment on any type of fruit or vegetable. OMRI listed for organic production.
32 fl. oz. starting at $18.95.
For organic gardening controlling Botrytis, Tip Blight, Rust, Downy mildew, Powdery mildew, Spider Mites, Aphids, Whiteflies, and other insect pests, use
. Multi-purpose fungicide/insecticide/miticide - a 3-in-1 product. Kills egg, larvae, and adult stages of insects. Prevents fungal attack of plant tissue. This product can be used on vegetables, fruits, nuts, flower, and house plants.
Around the Farm
And that's a wrap! Farming for the 2019 season is complete. We are all off to enjoy a few weeks of rest and relaxation before we dive into 2020 onion and cantaloupe preparations. Onion planting for the 2020 crop begins in late August.
Cooking with Onions
Vidalia Onion Quiche
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 lbs Vidalia onions (or sweet yellow onions), about 4 thinly sliced
- 9 inches unbaked pie shells
- 1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese or 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Melt butter in a large frying pan, and add sliced onions
- Saute until transparent. Set aside to cool.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese in the bottom of the pie plate.
- Add the cooled onions.
- Mix together eggs, cream, salt, and pepper.
- Pour over the onions and top with remaining cheese and chives.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until mixture is set.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.
All Your Questions Answered
|We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click the link for information on planting, caring, feeding, harvesting, and storing onions.
And be sure to review our short videos on Facebook. Topics range from fertilizing and dealing with cold weather to how onion plants are harvested. You can view these videos even if you don't have a Facebook account.
As the largest and oldest onion plant farm in the U.S., Dixondale Farms offers a wide selection of top-quality, disease-free, ready-to-plant onion plants. To see our complete product line or get growing tips and cultural information, visit our
New customer? Request your 2020 catalog
. 2020 Catalogs will be mailed in early October.
We're available from 8:15 AM to 5:00 PM CT at 830-876-2430, or e-mail us at
Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success.
We invite you to join the community on our
. You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, photos, recipes, weather information, and other tips.
Don't forget to subscribe to our
channel! Our videos will guide you on selecting the right onion variety, applying fertilizer, the best weed control options, and more.
We're on Pinterest too. Check out
which include photos covering small space onion gardens, tasty onion recipes, planting tips, and more.
You can also join us on
, a photo community where we're sharing even more Dixondale photos.