February 2019
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Watering your onions with the correct amount is crucial to your onions' development and success. In this edition of "The Onion Patch", we break down how to make sure your onions are receiving just the right amount of water with the "checkbook" method. 

Happy Onion Growing,

Bruce "The Onionman" and Jeanie Frasier
Checkbook Method to Watering Onions
Onions are highly sensitive to underwatering and overwatering. Research has shown that a single episode of moderate water stress any time from the four-leaf stage to the eight-leaf stage can result in reduced bulb single-centeredness. With these facts in mind, it is tempting to err on the side of overwatering - however, overwatering can rot the crop, either in the field or on the shelf.

Think of watering your onions like a checkbook. The soil is the bank account and water is either added or taken away. Rain and irrigation are deposits while water used by the crop and water evaporated from the soil through evapotranspiration are withdrawals. The goal is to estimate the amount of water in the crop root zone and prevent the crop from experiencing water stress. Water depletion varies with the soil texture. Silt and clay are fine-textured soils and hold more water than coarse-textured soils such as sand. Sandy soils require more frequent irrigation. The amount of evapotranspiration (ET) is variable depending on the amount of solar radiation, wind, air temperature and humidity. ET data is often available from weather stations in specific production regions. Once you know how much you are losing to ET, you can resupply this loss with either irrigation or rainfall. 

For most areas in the country, the daily forecasted ET range in the 0.35-0.45 range during the summer months (July-August) During the spring (May-June) the ET range will be much smaller in the 0.1-0.3 range. In the winter, the ET range can be extremely low in the 0.01-0.1 range. That is what needs to be replaced by watering. Here's a link to Daily FRET (Forecast Reference EvapoTranspiration). 
Daily FRET

Onions should be watered immediately after planting. During the first month after planting, water demand is fairly low. Onions are developing new roots and most these initial roots are shallow compared to other crops. Most of the roots are within the top 10" of soil. Light, frequent irrigations should be applied.

During the second month of planting the root system of the onion begins to expand in to the top 20" of the soil. As the onion grows, foliage becomes denser and leaf area increases, which leads to more transpiration and increased irrigation needs.

Furrow Irrigating Your Onions
Furrow Irrigating Your Onions

During the bulbing stage, water demand gradually increases to fill the rings with water and complete the bulbing process. In addition, this usually equates to warmer weather when the ET will be at its highest. Frequent, heavy irrigations will be required until the bulbs reach the marketable size and the tops start to fall over. At that time, irrigation should cease to allow the crop to dry in the field and increase shelf life.

Have more questions about watering your onions? Contact Customer Service at (830) 876-2430 or email customerservice@dixondalefarms.com. We look forward to another season of providing the highest quality onion plants for you!
From Our Friends
When temperatures drop below freezing, customers with onions in the ground call and ask us how to protect their onions. We recommend adding mulch or hay around them and to be sure to water them in well. 

Robin and her 10 year old son, John, of Bedford, TX shared their method of keeping their onions warm during the super cold temperatures with us. They place PVC pipe over rebar and cover their raised bed with plastic. The temperature was 19°F outside and windy, but in the upper 40°Fs in this hoop house. Here is a photo of their Texas Legend and Leeks.

This is an easy method for our customers that have raised beds and may save your onions from an unexpected late spring freeze!

Thank you for sharing your method with us, Robin and John! We wish you a great 2019 growing season.

Share Your Photos with Us!
We enjoy receiving photos from our customers including those of new methods of growing, harvesting, curing, and storing. We'd love to publish yours in an upcoming newsletter. Just e-mail your onion photos to  customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.
Featured Products
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.

Mancozeb 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.
Around the Farm

We grow two crops at Dixondale Farms - onion transplants and cantaloupes. Onions are planted August-December and harvested November-May. Cantaloupes are planted in February-March and harvested May-July.

Our first planting of cantaloupes went in the ground last week! Here's a look at their first leaves.


Cooking with Onions
5-Ingredient Turkey Chili
  •  2 White Onions, diced
  • 2 lbs. Ground Turkey
  • 3 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 (15 oz) cans beans, drained (black beans, kidney beans, or combination of both)
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • Optional toppings: jalapenos, raw red onion slices, shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, etc.
  1. In an extra-large stockpot, brown ground turkey over medium-high heat cooked thoroughly (~15-20 minutes).
  2. Transfer cooked beef/turkey to a separate plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of turkey grease in the stockpot and discard the rest.
  3. Add the diced white onion to the stockpot and sauté for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add remaining ingredients, and cooked turkey to the stockpot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
  5. Garnish with optional toppings. Will store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Thanks to Onions52 for this great onion recipe! If you have an onion recipe you'd like us to share, please email it to  customerservice@dixondalefarms.com .
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.  

You can also read our electronic Planting Guide or download and print a PDF guide (which includes leeks). 

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.
About Dixondale Farms
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 Web site .

New customer? Request your 2019 catalog here. We're available from 8:15 AM to 5:00 PM CT at 830-876-2430, or e-mail us at customerservice@dixondalefarms.com .

Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success.
Join Us on Social Media!
Facebook Icon We invite you to join the community on our  Facebook page . 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  YouTube 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 our Pins which include photos covering small space onion gardens, tasty onion recipes, planting tips, and more.

You can also join us on  Instagram, a photo community where we're sharing even more Dixondale photos.