May 2015
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Watering is an important part of onion plant care. The secret is to strike the right balance between keeping the plants properly hydrated, but free of excess moisture, which can cause fungal problems.  


Here are some tips on when, how, and how much to water.


When to Water 

After planting, onions need a good drink of water as soon as possible, so "water them in" thoroughly. Then water them every other day to keep them moist until they establish a root system, which normally takes a week.


Once the roots are established, water at least weekly with a good soaking, allowing the soil to dry a bit between waterings. Onion plants have shallow roots, and keeping them moist but not wet is key. You can apply straw as a mulch to keep moisture in and weeds out. Just move the straw away from the plants when you see the bulbs emerging from the soil.  


How to Water

Always water your onion plants from below, rather than overhead. Overhead watering dampens the leaves and makes them vulnerable to fungus. It can also muddy the soil. Drip irrigation at the roots is an effective watering method, because it slowly provides water directly to the roots, keeping the leaves dry. Simple, reasonably priced drip irrigation kits are available at home supply stores.   


Just Enough Water

I like to use the "knuckle rule." Stick your finger in the ground up to your middle knuckle, and if you don't find any moisture, water the plants thoroughly. This method of measuring soil moisture can be used throughout the growing process.  


Onions use water to take up nutrients, then convert them to carbohydrates and send them up to the leaves. These carbohydrates become solid fiber building blocks.  


For this "conversion phase", just enough water means about two inches per week. With too much watering, your onions will just take up nutrients and never convert them to carbohydrates.  


Over watering can also lead to yellowing leaves, so if you see this, cut back on the watering. Check your plants often afterwards, to make sure the leaves are back to a healthy green.    


The closer you get to harvest time, the more water your plants will need. Once the onions begin bulbing, they are no longer converting nutrients to carbohydrates, but sending the carbs stored in the leaves down to the rings in the bulb. To fill these rings requires more water.


Sweet and storage onions require different water amounts, because sweet have more water in the cell structure than storage varieties (90% vs. 80%). You should increase your watering to approximately twice a week for sweet varieties, and about once every five days for storage.  


But when the onion tops fall over, the watering should stop, so the soil can aerate before harvest.


Watering for Success

Keeping your onion plants moist but not soggy will ensure that you produce a bumper crop of sizable onions. Just follow these suggestions, keep the leaves as dry as possible, and you'll soon have a great bounty of delectable onions to consume and share.


Happy growing,

Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

Spotlight on Longtime Customers

This month's featured longtime customer is the Hageman family of Leonardville, Kansas. We love the Intermediate Day onion photos we've received from them over the years. The Hagemans have been our customers since 2006. 


We've watched grandchild Payton grow up in front of our eyes, and now a new grandbaby, Reese (left, in above left photo), has made her own showing in our 100th year catalog!
Special Offer for May
Jumbo Sweet Onions

We're offering up something really special: a ten-pound box of our very best Texas jumbo sweet onions. We hand select only the largest, sweetest onions available, and include our favorite onion recipes along with them. Not only are these onions great for your own table, they make an awesome culinary gift. You can't beat the price of just $24.95 for one box; and if you order two or more, you can get them for just $22.95 each. 


These onions will ship only in May. Get your order in today!

Featured Products
After-Planting Growing Aids & Disease Prevention Products

Following are several products that will help you maximize your onion crop, protect your plants, and encourage their growth throughout the season. They include a fertilizer, an organic foliar feed, two fungicides, and an insecticide.


Give established plants nitrogen - Nitrogen helps maximize growth and bulbing potential. With this boost, your onions should generate more foliage and, therefore, more rings and larger bulbs. Our Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer 21-0-0 is ideal here.

Grow big onions - OmegaGrow: This exclusive, all-organic foliar feed has everything your onions need to grow big and strong. OmegaGrow provides a rich source of nutrients that slowly break down and release nitrogen into the soil, continually supporting root growth, top development, and yield, but never harming the environment. 


Protect against disease - OxiDate: It is a simple, ready-to-use 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. This eco-friendly formula stops 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. OxiDate works best when applied as preventative or "early curative."


Prevent fungus damage - Mancozeb Flowable Fungicide with Zinc: This liquid fungicide, which contains zinc, iron, manganese, ethylene, and bisdithiocarbarmate, does an excellent job of preventing fungus damage to plants. It protects against downy mildew, tip blight, stemphylium leaf blight, botrytis, white tip, and more.


Stop insects - AzaGuard: This non-toxic insecticide repels insects on treated plants by inhibiting growth, feeding and reproduction. It offers broad spectrum control on more than 300 insect species, including onion maggots and thrips, and is uniquely formulated with an activated peroxygen chemistry that destroys pathogens on contact and leaves no residues behind.

From Our Friends
A Proud Daughter

Renee Peters recently sent in this photo of her father, and here's what she had to say:


"The person in the photo is my dad, Doug Kluever, and my two dogs, Russow and Ruby. The onions are Candy and Red Zeppelin, and were grown in summer 2013 in Rushmore, Minnesota."


We love to pass on the photos that come in, and hope they give everyone a smile!


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
Introducing our newest team member, Brian King

Brian King joined the Dixondale Farms crew this month. He moved to Carrizo Springs from Dublin, TX, where he worked in the veterinary industry for several years.


Brian is eager to learn the daily operations around the farm so he can provide great plants to our customers. He's excited to be a part of Dixondale Farms, and we're delighted that he's joined our team.


Cooking with Onions


There will be a lot of festive gatherings in May, especially for Mother's Day and Memorial Day. So why not add some light onion salads to your feast? Try the Grilled Onion Salsa featured below, or visit our recipe page for Quick Cucumber & Red Onion Pickled Salad and Sweet Onion Veggie Salad.


Grilled Onion Salsa

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 c. seeded jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Salt
Grill the onion slices. Coarsely chop the grilled rings and mix with the chopped tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and cumin seeds. Season with salt and fresh lime juice. Makes about 3-1/2 cups.


Recipe courtesy of Dixondale Farms. For additional delectable summer recipes, visit our Web site.  If you have a recipe you'd like us to print, email it to
Q & A: Dealing with Weeds
Q: How can I prevent weeds in my onion patch?

A: Controlling weeds is important in order to prevent competition for nutrients. An application of Treflan or corn gluten meal raked into the top inch of soil every six weeks during the growing season will prevent weeds from returning. Mulching with a light layer of straw will help control weeds and preserve moisture. Be sure to push the straw back when the plants start to bulb, so they'll develop properly.

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.

You can also print our electronic Planting Guide, or download a PDF version for easy reference.

And be sure to review our short videos, on topics ranging from bolting and fertilizing, to how onion plants are harvested, and how they deal with cold weather.
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, request a catalog, or for growing tips and cultural information, visit our Web site. We're also available from 8:00 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.

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