While we are busy at Dixondale Farms with cantaloupes, our customers are busy in their gardens with onions! Every season we have a handful of customers that contact us with questions about why a couple of their onions may have flowered.
Read on to learn more about what causes this and ways you can try to prevent it.
Bruce "The Onionman" and Jeanie
|Bolting in Your Onion Patch
Ever find a couple of your onions flowering in the garden? This process is referred to as bolting. Boltin
g is when an onion plant produces a flower stalk. Onions bulbs that have bolted will not grow any larger than their current size. They should be harvested and consumed right away because they have very little storage potential.
Bolting is a survival response. Abnormal growing conditions make the onion think it's dying, and it sends up a flower so it can reproduce. At this point, the bulb stops growing altogether because the plant needs energy to make the flower stalk. The abnormal growing conditions that can cause bolting are:
Temperature fluctuations and cold weather stress
When the temperature is below 45°F for a prolonged period, the plant becomes dormant. When the temperature rises, the plant grows. If cold weather returns, the plant goes dormant again, and with returning warmth, it will grow again. Two or more dormant/growth cycles will likely result in bolting.
When the soil is too loose, an onion plant's roots are more easily disturbed. Thinking it's starving, the onion reacts by trying to spread its seed.
This causes onions to grow too vigorously too early in their development. We offer some fertilizing tips in our Onion Planting Guide that will help you give your plants the right amount of food so you can prevent bolting.
Why Onions Bolted
The onions are more vulnerable to bolting due to (a) the cool, wet weather from mid-January to mid-March during which there were warmer periods alternating with cooler ones; and (b) the fact that those onions were already fairly mature. Onions planted on December 1 had fewer incidents of bolting, because planting a month later meant the plants were not as far along in the growing process.
How to Prevent Bolting
Though you can't control the weather, there are some steps you can take to discourage your onions from bolting.
Choose the right varieties
Be sure to pick onions of a suitable day-length for your climate or they'll get confused and may bolt. The southern tier states require short-day onions because they rarely get more than 12 hours of good daylight during growing season. Intermediate-day onions are best for the middle of the country where they bulb once the day-length reaches 12-14 hours of sunlight. The upper portion of the country needs long-day onions which mature once days exceed 14 hours of sunlight.
Plant at the right time
Planting at the correct time for the variety in question is the most important factor for limiting bolting. Planting should occur 4-6 weeks before the last estimated spring frost/freeze. You can use this chart to find your average last spring frost date, and of course our shipping chart will also provide the week that your plants will arrive, according to your zip code.
Fertilize according to instructions every two to three weeks after planting. Stop as soon as the onions start to bulb. We've got a YouTube video that offers some great fertilizing tips.
The Warner Family, located south of Pittsburgh, PA, contacted us not long ago with feedback regarding their 1015 Texas Super Sweet success. The Warners write:
"After several unsuccessful years of trying to raise good size and tasting onions, it was time to change things up! We were excited to have found Dixondale Farms onions and to put a few bunches of their Texas Super Sweets in our garden this season.
We received our couple bunches of onions around 3rd week of April and were able to get the ground worked up and fertilized with the recommended Dixondale Farms Onion Special 10-20-10 fertilizer.
Thankfully, Mother Nature let us get the onions in the ground between the may rainy days of April. Following the recommended feeding program, the onions have been fed every 3 weeks with Ammonium Sulfate 21-0-0. We have stopped feeding them now around 7 weeks and they are starting to bulb! We are truly enjoying our batches of onions this growing season. They look amazing, and we can't wait until they are ready to haul in from the garden! There is nothing like a big family garden to bond a family!
The customer service support regarding any questions we had was above and beyond! We thank you so much, Dixondale Farms, for your support and great quality of onions!"
If you have photos you would like to share with us, please email
. We are always looking for photos to share in our newsletters and catalog.
Mancozeb Fungicide with Zinc
Disease Prevention and Curative
Mancozeb Fungicide with Zinc is a liquid fungicide containing zinc, iron, manganese, ethylene, and bisdithiocarbarmate, and does an excellent job of preventing fungus damage to plants. It protects against diseases resulting from excessive moisture such as downy mildew, tip blight, stemphylium leaf blight, botrytis, white tip, and more. Spray on a weekly basis 3 weeks after planting and continue until 2
weeks before harvest for best results.
OxiDate Organic Fungicide
Organic Fungus Prevention
OxiDate is an organic fungicide/bacteriacide. It's EPA registered, offers a great alternative to copper-based products, contains no chlorine or ammonia, and leaves no harmful residue. It will stop powdery and downy mildew, phytophthora, brown rot, blights, and bacterial wilt on contact, all without harming the environment or posing a risk to human health or safety. Begin spraying your o
nions and leeks 3 weeks after planting. Continue to spray every 7-10 days all the way to harvest. OxiDate works best as preventative or "early curative" by applying spray when c
onditions are conducive to disease, but no symptoms are to be seen yet.
Cooking with Onions
Triple-Onion Baked Potatoes
- 4 large baking potatoes
- 1 pound sliced bacon, diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup diced American cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 green onions, finely sliced
Bake potatoes at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove and place on paper towels. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. In the drippings, saute red and yellow onions until tender; set aside.
When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving an 1/8-in. shell. In a bowl, beat the pulp, sour cream and milk until creamy. Stir in sauteed onions, American cheese and 1 cup of bacon. Spoon into potato shells.
Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, green onions, and remaining bacon. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
Around the Farm
National Pollinator Week
National Pollinator Week
ees are extremely important to Dixondale Farms. Without bees, we would not have a crop. We pride ourselves in making decisions with the bees in mind. Check out this video of Bruce "The Onionman" Frasier explaining some of the growing methods we use in our cantaloupe fields at Dixondale Farms.
Share Your Onion Photos
We need YOUR help!
Our 2019 catalog design process is off to a great start, but we need YOUR help! We are requesting photos of your onions. Any and all varieties are needed. Who knows, you might just end up on the front cover.
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? Get on our 2019 catalog mailing list
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.