We hope your onion plants are enjoying good weather and growing strong and healthy. This is the time of year we hear from many of you asking when your plants will be ready to harvest. Now's a good time to share harvesting tips so you'll know what to look for before your onions make a beeline to your kitchen.
Jeanie and Bruce
How Do I Know When My Onions Are Ready?
Onions are officially ready to harvest when the tops turn yellow or brown and fall over. Some of your plants may grow the maximum number of leaves: 13. At this point, you need to stop watering and wait for the tops to fall over; then it's time to harvest. Even if your plants haven't reached 13 leaves, your onions are ready to harvest when the tops fall over naturally; they'll still be robust. If you're eager to harvest, you can bend over the tops to stop the bulbing process.
Be sure to harvest early on a clear day, and lay the onions out in the field for at least a full day to dry. Place the tops of one row over the bulbs of the next to keep the onions from getting sunscald.
How Do I Dry My Onions?
Your onions need to be thoroughly dried, or
cured, in order to store properly and to avoid rot and spoilage. If you don't expect rain for several days, you can leave them out in the field to cure. Your goal is to get them dry enough that the skin at the neck is tight and doesn't slip. Also, the outer leaves should become dry and rustle when touched while the skin takes on a uniform texture and color. Don't remove the dry outer layers as they help protect the onion until it's ready to eat.
If you expect rain, dry your onions indoors instead. Spread them out with plenty of room between them in a well-ventilated area with low humidity. If you can, leave a fan set on low to hasten the curing process. When the onions are completely dried, you can
off the roots and trim the tops down to 1-2 inches long.
How Do I Store My Onions?
Onions store best in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location. To maximize storage length, keep them in mesh
that permit airflow. Check them every once in a while for softness or spoilage, and remove any bad onions immediately. Use your sweet onions first since they don't last as long as their more pungent cousins.
The Good Harvest
Onions can be a fulfilling crop that continues to reward you for months after harvest if you take care with them during harvesting, drying, and storing. All it takes is the few easy steps we've outlined here to keep your onions tasty and nutritious for months.
Dr. Ellen Pong of the University of St. Augustine in Florida writes,
"This year was the best ever for onions in my garden. In early January, I received my plants and got them in the ground and mulched. By mid-March, the plants had taken off!"
The onions I planted this year from your farm include
Southern Belle Red,
Red Candy Apple,
1015Y Texas Super Sweet,
Texas Early White, and
"Now, in May, I have been harvesting sweet onions for well over 30 days. I have made onion soup, frozen chopped onions, dehydrated onions, and grilled them (below). These are just delicious!"
Thanks, Dr. Pong, and congratulations on your harvest. That's one tasty-looking crop of onions!
Dixondale Sweet Onion Soup
This month's recipe and photo come from Dr. Ellen Pong, who is featured in our From Our Friends section. Dr. Pong has crafted an onion soup from our sweet onions she's grown and shared the recipe with all of us!
- 8 large sweet onions, peeled and sliced (quarter each onion, then slice into ¼" thick pieces)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8-10 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (malt vinegar works pretty well too; do NOT use plain white vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 cup water
- Sea salt to taste
- Shredded aged Swiss and shredded Asiago cheeses for serving
- Crusty bread
Melt the butter and heat the oil together. Add onions and cook over low heat, stirring 15-20 minutes, until the onions are soft and lightly caramel colored. Add the
stock, vinegar, soy sauce, and smoked paprika. Add salt to taste. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Taste again and adjust seasoning. Stir in the cornstarch dissolved in water. You want a slightly thickened broth, not watery, but not like pudding. The amount of cornstarch will vary with the amount of stock and how thin your soup turns out. Start with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, which may be plenty. Add more broth if you accidentally get it too thick.
To serve, grate the two cheeses into each bowl (amount is to your preference) and ladle the hot soup over it. Serve with crusty bread.
Products for Healthy Onions
We offer numerous products to help you fertilize and protect your produce. All our fertilizers and feed-and-weed products come in our re-sealable four-pound and twelve-pound bags.
Start your plants with a 10-20-10 fertilizer to help establish their root systems. We recommend using Dixondale Farms Onion Special 10-20-10 first. 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.
To feed and weed your plants at the same time, try Dixondale Farms Feed and Weed 10-20-10. This is a unique fertilizer and organic pre-emergent herbicide all in one.
Keep the soil nutrient-rich for robust onions. OmegaGrow, our exclusive, all-organic foliar feed, has everything your onions need to grow big and strong, and is gentle on the environment.
For organic feeding and weeding, All Natural Feed and Weed 2-5-3 is ideal. This purely organic product combines an all-natural fertilizer with the pre-emergent weed control power of corn gluten meal.
Julie Rae Lira is the daughter of Customer Service Representative Aby Samaniego. We congratulate her on graduating with honors from Carrizo Springs High School. We are very proud of Julie Rae, and wish her the best as she begins her next chapter in life!
Our Other Crop
When we're not shipping out onion plants, we're growing and packing cantaloupes. Every employee at Dixondale Farms plays a role in the process of getting these cantaloupes shipped out to grocery stores. We couldn't do it without their hard work, and we appreciate them! If you live in Texas, check your local grocery store for Carrizo Cantaloupes in June and July.
Q. Why are the leaves of my onions bending over?
If your onion plant leaves are green and bent, this is a sign of too much water. They are not yet ready for harvest if the leaves are still green.
Bent leaves can happen if it's been raining a lot where you are
(like it has been in most of Texas)
, or if you're watering too much. The leaves are
heavy from the additional water and should dry out and be fine.
Use the knuckle rule for watering: Water whenever you don't feel any moisture up to your middle knuckle when you stick your finger in the
. Then water the plants well and wait until they dry down. This allows a healthy cycle of nutrient uptake, carbohydrate conversion, and the transference of these carbohydrates to the leaves.
All Your Questions Answered
|We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click the link for information on which varieties to order, how many plants are in a bunch or bundle, and how to find your frost and freeze dates. We also have tips 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, request a catalog, or get growing tips and cultural information, visit our
. You can also view our
We're available from 8:15 AM to 5:00 PM CT at 877-367-1015, 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.
And don't forget to find us on
and subscribe to our videos where Bruce 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.