August 2019
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The Dixondale Crew just returned from a trip to New York to visit some onion fields. From what we saw, many of our Northeastern customers will be nearing harvest soon. Below are a few signs to look for when your onions are ready to be harvested.

With summer coming to a close, we a gearing up for the 2019-2020 onion plant season.

Happy Harvesting,

Bruce "The Onionman" and Jeanie Frasier
Signs Your Onions are Ready for Harvest
Leaf Count
One way you can tell your onion plants are nearing harvest is to count the number of leaves on your onions. While 13 leaves is a "perfect" onion, some varieties may mature with fewer leaves than that are still perfectly good onions. When your plants reach at least seven leaves, you can start watching them carefully. Look for these three key signs that your onions are mature and ready to be harvested.
 
Three Signs Your Onions are Ready for Harvest
1. Soft Neck
When the area right above the neck (the place where the leaves meet the bulb) starts feeling soft, the transfer of carbohydrates from the leaves to the rings has finished meaning the final cell division within the rings has occurred. At this stage, you should water less frequently to prevent sour skin and black mold occurring in wet soils. 

2. Tops Falling Over
When some of the tops fall over, this reflects 100% soft neck, even though not all the tops are down. If you are planning to consume the onions right away, you can pull and enjoy them. There is good skin development at this stage and adequate green tops to prevent sunscald during drying.


This photo above shows how different varieties mature at different times. On the left, you see an earlier maturing onion variety, while the right is later maturing and still has a few weeks of growing left.

When all the tops are down, the onion is finished pulling sugars out of the top and moisture out of its roots, but skin development will continue to occur. Our general rule of thumb is to wait for 85-90% of the tops to fall over before harvesting.  If growing for storage, a light last watering should take place to allow onions to respire some moisture before harvest. For sweeter onions, give them a moderate final watering.


Notice in this field in the background with the majority of its tops fallen over. This is a good sign. From there, leave in the field for some final drying before harvesting. These onions are headed in the right direction for harvesting soon.
  
3. Last Leaf
Examine all the leaves, particularly the most recent one to appear (last leaf). The leaf sheaths mature and dry from the oldest to the youngest leaf. If you pull the onions from the soil before the last leaf is dry, rot could occur during storage. The neck cavity or top of the onion should not be sunken or soft before lifting the onions out of the soil.


Here's a good example of a field that has finished drying in the field once the tops have all fallen over.
 
It's best to remove your onions in the morning before the worst of the heat and direct sunlight occur.
 
After Lifting Your Onions
Now that your plants are out of the soil, you'll want them to last as long as possible. This requires thorough drying and curing. For more information on harvesting and curing, see our past newsletters by topic. 

If you have growing or harvesting questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call. 
Contact Customer Service at (830) 876-2430 or email customerservice@dixondalefarms.com .
From Our Friends
Scott Bonelli of Poway, CA shared his onion photos with us recently. Scott grows three Dixondale Farms varieties: 1015Y Texas Super Sweet, Yellow Granex, and Red Candy. 

He writes, "I planted 200 onion plants this season. Normally, I use mushroom compost that I get for free, but this season I used your 10-20-10 Onion Special, and OMG, I grew some of the largest onions I have ever grown. Here is a picture of my grandson, Aiden and our Red Candy Apple onions. These are much bigger than the Red Zeppelins we grew several years ago."


We appreciate Scott sharing with us and happy to hear of his success with our Onion Special Fertilizer. Keep up the good work, Scott and Aiden!

Share Your Photos with Us!
We enjoy receiving photos from our customers. We'd love to publish yours in an upcoming newsletter. Just e-mail your onion photos to  customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.
Featured Products
Harvest and Storage Aids
Once you've harvested your onions,  they'll need to be stored until you're ready to eat them. Here are a few products  that will help you keep them fresh. 

Onion Shears:  You can clip your onions like a professional onion harvester with these  shears

Ergonomically designed for quick and easy removal of roots and onion leaves, our shears also work on all other alliums, including garlic and our own Lancelot Leeks. They'll help ensure you enjoy your harvest for months by making it easier to prepare your onions for storage.  $25.95

mesh netting

Mesh Netting: The best way to store onions is in  mesh netting. Drop in an onion, tie a knot above it, drop in another, and continue until the netting is full. Hang the netting up in a cool, dry place, and your onions will stay fresh.  

When you want an onion, cut below the lowest knot and take the onion that drops off. The nets are a great storage solution, as they keep onions well-ventilated, and disease (if any) can't travel from onion to onion.  $1.50 each or $1.00 each when you buy ten or more. 

storagebag Storage Bags: If you grow onions in quantity, like so many of our customers do,  our orange mesh storage bags are ideal, especially if you're planning to sell your onions. The bags provide ventilation, and they're light but also strong. They're available in  three sizes, 5 lb., 10 lb., and 50 lb., with the 10 and 50 pound sizes recommended for larger producers.

You can purchase our  storage bags individually or in bulk. They're  $2.75 each, but if you buy ten or more, they're just $2.25 each. And as with all products at Dixondale Farms, we don't add shipping charges. 

Onion Caliper:  With this  onion caliper tool , you can accurately determine the size of your crop:

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

We're selling this handy tool for  $4.99. It's great to use at farmers' markets or for bragging rights with other onion growers! 
Around the Farm

This month Bruce "The Onionman", Jeanie, Brian, and Emily spent some time in New York visiting onion trials for Bejo Seeds. We take pride in providing our customers the best varieties available and try our hardest to stay up to date with the newest varieties being introduced each season.

Here's The Onionman and Brian with one of the newest varieties. Stay tuned for more details in the catalog in October!
 
Cooking with Onions
French Onion Soup Casserole

Ingredients
  • 3 medium sweet onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Approximately 6-8 slices French bread, about 1/2 inch in thickness
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add onions and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. The broth will reduce.
  3. Pour onion and broth mixture into a greased casserole dish.  
  4. Lightly toast the slices of bread. Place toasted bread in a single layer on top of onion/broth mixture.
  5. Cover bread with a thick layer of the shredded Mozzarella and top with grated Parmesan.
  6. Place dish under the broiler, watching carefully.  Broil until the cheese melts and begins to brown and bubble.
  7. Let cool for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves: 6 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Thanks to our loyal customer, Truett Welborn for this great 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 2020 catalog here. 2020 Catalogs will be mailed in early October.  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.