|Fall-Winter Growing Pros and Cons||August 2013|
Every August, after folks have harvested their spring crops, many customers ask if they can plant any onion varieties now for a fall or winter harvest. Unfortunately, sunlight and temperature challenges make that inadvisable.
You can, however, grow green onions, and overwintering may be another option. Read on to learn more.
Planting For Fall Harvest?
If you plant onions now, they'll start bulbing -- pushing away the surrounding soil -- very soon, even though the onions have not fully developed. That's because bulbing is triggered not by plant size, but by day length.
Spring planting allows time for the onions to grow and mature before days are long enough to start the bulbing process. Late summer planting simply doesn't provide the proper conditions for onion plants to grow before bulbing begins.
An alternative that is by no means guaranteed is to plant in the fall, when days are short enough that bulbing will not occur, with the intention of harvesting the onions the following spring. This process, called overwintering, poses two risks.
One possibility is that the onion plant will not develop much before cold weather sets in. Tender young plants are not likely to survive frigid winter temperatures.
If the plants do make it through the winter, in spring they will be prone to start flowering, a process known as bolting. Bolting results in decreased bulb size, shorter storage time, and the possibility of decay.
While overwintering onions requires Mother Nature's full cooperation, you'll end up with extra-large onions if you're successful.
If green onions are your objective, you can plant long-day varieties that require at least 14 hours of day length. Here in South Texas, we can only grow extremely long day varieties in the early fall, because other varieties start bulbing just two weeks after we plant.
Your Best Bet
If you want to enjoy home-grown onions for as much of the year as possible, your very best bet is to grow plenty of storage varieties in the spring. Planting then -- when conditions are ideal -- is far safer, and we offer plenty of varieties that store well for many, many months of enjoyment.
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Mesh Netting. The best way to store onions is in mesh netting like the kind pictured here. Simply drop in an onion, tie a knot above it, drop in another, and continue the process until the netting is full. Hang it up in a cool, dry place, and you're sitting pretty.
Your onions will be safe and fresh until you need them. Whenever you want an onion, simply cut above the bottommost knot and take the onion that drops off. It's easy as pie, keeps the onion well-ventilated, and doesn't let disease (if any) travel from onion to onion like some storage methods can.
Storage Bags. If you grow onions in quantity, like so many of our customers do, you'll need some good storage options -- especially if you're planning to sell your onions. Our storage bags are ideal.
These orange mesh bags not only provide the ventilation your onions need, they're light and strong as well. They're available in three sizes, with the 10 and 50 pound sizes recommended for larger producers:
You can purchase our storage bags individually or in bulk. They're $2.50 each, but if you buy ten or more, they're $2.00 each. And of course, as with all products at Dixondale Farms, we don't add shipping charges.
Onion Calipers. We know you're a master onion farmer, but now you can prove it! With this onion caliper tool you can accurately determine the size of your crop. Onions are categorized according to their diameter:
Super Colossal: 4-1/4 inches and up
Colossal: 3-3/4 inches and up
Jumbo: 3 inches and up
Medium: 2-1/4 inches to 3-1/4 inches
Prepack: 1-3/4 inches to 2-3/4 inches
Boiler: 1 to 1-7/8 inches
As you can see, there's some overlap of sizing. A 3-1/4 inch medium can be considered a large medium or a small jumbo, for example.
We're selling these handy tools for $4.99, and we only have a limited number -- so hurry! They have our 100-year logo on them, and will be great to use at farmers markets or for bragging rights with other onion growers!
Onion Shears. Here's a dandy product that many onion growers forget about, but it makes the job a whole lot easier. These onion shears are used by professional onion field workers (including ours) use to snip the tops and bottoms off mature bulbs after they're harvested and field-dried. Each of our workers has to process 5,000 pounds of onions or more during the season, so you know they require a solid, durable, ergonomic tool. While you probably don't have as many onions to worry about, these steel shears make processing your onions a snap (literally!), helping to ensure a quick, bountiful harvest.
From Our Friends
Heather's Candy Onions
This month's super picture is from Calvin S. of Fort Wayne, IN. "The picture is my daughter Heather. She's shown with her 4-H Candy onions that won a champion and a reserve champion at the local County Fair."
Excellent job, Heather! We're always pleased to see young people who've done well with their Dixondale onions.
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
As you know, onion season is over, and we've wrapped up our fast but exhausting cantaloupe season as well. Summer vacations have started for us, but we're still here to help you and answer any questions you may have about your onions and the upcoming season. Our Customer Service crew is in the office from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Central Time, Monday through Friday.
|Cooking with Onions
Bistro Potato Salad With Caramelized Onions
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1-1/2 pounds small red potatoes
- Boiling salted water
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Saut� onions in olive oil in large skillet over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and chill. Boil potatoes 20 to 35 minutes or until fork tender but not mushy. Drain and chill in covered container.
Combine mayonnaise with dill leaves, mustard, lemon juice, and sugar. Slice chilled potatoes and brush a thin glaze of the dilled mayonnaise over tops. To arrange salad, spoon onions onto plate, spreading into 10 to 12-inch round. Make overlapping circles of glazed sliced potatoes over onions. Spoon some of the dilled mayonnaise into center, and pass remainder in a small bowl. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs or a few arugula leaves. Makes 6 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: Fertilizing Your Onions
Q. How much Nitrogen do onions need, and where do I get it?
A. A successful onion crop requires approximately 160 pounds of Nitrogen per acre. A 50-lb bag of 10-20-10 fertilizer includes five pounds of Nitrogen, 10 pounds of Phosphorous, and five pounds of Potassium. That means that you would have to use a total of 32 bags (1,600 lbs) of this fertilizer per acre to provide the normal Nitrogen requirements of your onion crop.
For customers growing in smaller spaces, we offer 4 pound and 12 pound bags of 10-20-10 fertilizer, which will handle 150 feet and 450 feet of onion rows, respectively.
You can also provide Nitrogen through the use of dry animal manure. For more information on providing Nitrogen for your onions, check our "Fertilization Requirements for Onions" article.
Fun Onion Facts
Next time you harvest green onions, whether in the fall or spring, be sure to eat some of the green tops as well as the bulbs. Not only are they tasty, they're an excellent source of Vitamin C, beta carotene (which the body makes into Vitamin A), and folate, a form of Vitamin B9.
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.
We've always been proud of our customers' ability to consistently grow bumper crops of good, solid onions year in and year out. We try to provide not only the very best onion plants in the world, but also the advice and supplies that our customers need in order to maximize their yields, both in terms of number and size.
We must be doing something right -- we're still here after a century, and our customers keep sending us photographic proof of their great success. Pictured here are some customer photos from years past. As you can see, they're beaming with delight at their colossal-size onions!
Got some pictures to share? Send 'em our way!
About Dixondale Farms
As the largest and oldest onion plant farm in the U.S. (100 years strong!), Dixondale Farms offers a wide selection of top-quality, disease-free, ready-to-plant onion plants. To see our complete product line, request a catalog, or for growing tips and cultural information, visit our Web site.
Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success. We've posted answers to frequently asked questions about growing onions on our FAQ page. And of course, we're also available from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM CT at 877-367-1015, or e-mail us any time at email@example.com.
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.
So, you think you know how to count the concentric rings in your onions? Check out this interesting photo!
And remember -- if you'd like to protect yourself from the sun and join us as we celebrate 100 years of business at the same time, you can buy one of our Centennial baseball caps!