November 2017
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Weeds are one thing that all farmers have in common. It's important to prepare your beds to keep the weeds to a minimum during your growing season. As many of our customers prepare for their 2018 crops, we wanted to share some tips with you.

2017 has flown by and we can't believe it's already November. We wish all of our customers a Happy Thanksgiving. May you, your family, and your friends have a happy holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving,
 
  
Bruce "The Onionman" and Jeanie   
Preparing a Weed Free Onion Patch
Keeping your beds weed free is important as weeds compete with onions for nutrients. Below are some tips for preparing your beds in advance to keep weeds out of your garden.

Preparing Your Beds in Advance
Annual weeds respond to a wide range of environmental factors that stimulate germination such as light, water, oxygen, and nitrogen. If beds are prepared in advance, they should be shallowly worked (to a depth of 2", or approximately 5 cm) immediately before planting to kill emerging and established seedlings. If you prepare your beds far enough in advance to kill several generations of weeds, it will greatly reduce weed pressure during the growing season. After each new crop of weeds emerges, shallowly work the soil to destroy the newly emerging weeds. Cultivation is always more effective in dry soil conditions. In moist soil conditions, weeds are more likely to re-root and continue growing.
 
Burning Weeds
Another option for creating a sterile bed for planting onions is by burning the weeds. Flaming should target broadleaf weeds; grasses, with their basal growing points, are less susceptible. Ideally, flaming should be performed just before planting your onion transplants or the crop emergence of other vegetables if planted from seed. If the ground is cracking and the new seedling is starting to emerge it can be killed by the flame. This method can be used in moist soil conditions.

Using Mulch to Prevent Weeds
Both plastic and organic mulches help modify soil temperature, conserve moisture, and provide weed control. Managing weeds in the wheel tracks or paths between plastic-mulched beds remains a challenge, however. Use a heavy  application of mulch hay between the beds, aiming for a depth of at least 1" (~2.5 cm) of compressed mulch
to provide season-long weed control. The mulch must maintain this thickness, overlapping the plastic, to avoid weed problems on this edge. While costly, both for the mulch and the labor, it benefits soil quality and reduces weeding requirements. 

Living mulches are another option for the areas between plastic mulched beds, but compared to straw, hay, or leaves, the living mulch will compete with the crop for water and nutrients, and provide an environment more favorable for perennial weeds to proliferate. If living mulches are used, consider strategies to manage the competition. For example, drip irrigation and band app lication of fertilizers can be used to deliver water and nutrients to the crop; frequent mowing can manage resource uptake by the living mulch.

So, weed early, weed often, and use all means available to keep weeds from competing with your onions.
From Our Friends
 
Here's a picture of first time growers Andrew and Melissa Burnard's crop. They grew our Short Day Sampler this year. 

Melissa writes, "We took all of our information and directions and had a successful year right from the start. We are so excited to have onions in home and not have to go to the grocery store to buy them." 

We are thrilled to hear from stories like these from all customers, especially first time onion growers. We look forward to continuing to serve the Burnard family for all their onion growing needs.


Can You Identify this Onion Disease?
Photo Courtesy of Jack Kelly Clark
                                
It's downy mildew - a common disease that can be found among onion fields.

Identification
Downy mildew can infect both onions and garlic. The first evidence of disease is a fine, furry,  grayish white to purple growth  on the surface of older leaves. Leaf tissue under the growth becomes pale green, then yellow, and finally collapses. Large, yellowish, circular clumps of infected plants, a few to many feet in diameter, may be the first symptom noticed in the field. The  yellowing patterns  often enlarge in the direction of prevailing winds. 

Downy mildew can develop from an initial infection by airborne spores into an epidemic very quickly if humidity and temperature conditions (1.5 to 7 hours of leaf wetness and 43° to 80°F) are favorable. Spores can travel long distances in moist air, but are quickly killed by dry conditions. Initial sources of disease can be infected bulbs, sets, seeds, and plant debris.

Management
Cultural Control
Use disease-free bulbs, sets, and seed. Use a 3-year rotation away from Allium crops in fields where the disease has occurred. Destroy volunteer Allium plants in and around the field and buildings. Locate onion fields where there is good air movement to promote rapid drying of foliage. Currently there are a few red onion cultivars (e.g., Calred) that are resistant to downy mildew.

Chemical Control
Spray at the first sign of disease; fungicides may be applied on a 7-day schedule, if necessary. For all fungicides, thorough coverage of foliage is important in the control of downy mildew. We recommend Mancozeb Fungicide with Zinc


Dixondale Farms is fortunate to be on a 5-7 year crop rotation to help keep our plants disease free from diseases such as downy mildew.
Featured Products
Onion Success Kits
We are offering  Onion Growing Success Kits again this season  so you have products ready for each phase of an onion's growing cycle.  Each kit treats approximately 10 bunches and includes step-by-step growing instructions to ensure bumper crops in the onion patch.

We've gathered our products to help make you a successful onion grower!  $60.95;  SAVE 20%

*Start plants out and establish root systems with our exclusive Dixondale Farms Onion Special 10-20-10 fertilizer.
* Perform pre-emergent weed control at planting time with Treflan Herbicide Granules.
* Boost nitrogen levels with Ammonium Sulfate three weeks after planting for more rings and larger bulbs.
*Use Mancozeb Fungicide with Zinc to control moisture-related issues.

Grow a healthy onion crop using all natural products in our All Natural Onion Growing Success Kit!  $63.95;  SAVE 20%

*Our exclusive Dixondale Farms All Natural Weed & Feed 3-5-3 is perfect for pre-emergent prevention of weed germination.
*Applying OmegaGrow Foliar Feed two weeks after planting adds nitrogen to soil for top results.
*Oxidate Organic Fungicide Preventative and Curative addresses moisture-related issues.
*AzaGuard Organic Insecticide controls over 300 species of bad bugs.
Around the Farm

Earlier this month, our farm manager, Brian King, and marketing manager, Emily Lord, traveled to Brazil for a crop tour around the country. There they visited tomato, lettuce, watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, and asparagus farms. The trip was tremendously insightful and they brought back many new ideas for Dixondale Farms. 
 
Here they are in a cantalope field and visiting a hydroponic lettuce operation.
Here they are touring a cantaloupe field (left) and visiting a hydroponic lettuce operation (right).
Check This Out!

Our friends at Hoss Tools plant our onions every year. We shipped their Texas Legend and Red Creole onions last week. Check out this awesome video of Travis at Hoss Tools planting his onion transplants.
 
How to Grow the Best Onions
How to Grow the Best Onions
Cooking with Onions
Homemade Onion Strings
Ingredients
  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon (to 1/2 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 quart (to 2 quarts) Canola Oil
  • Black Pepper to taste
Directions
Slice onion very thin. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk and soak for at least an hour. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Grab a handful of onions, throw into the flour mixture, tap to shake off excess, and PLUNGE into hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as golden brown. Repeat until onions are gone. 

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman 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 website .

New customer? View our 2018 catalog or order a 2018 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.