February 2015
New Header 100 Straight
  

Have you wondered, like many of our customers, whether succession planting will work with onions?

 

For many crops, planting every week or two in succession is a valuable method for providing a continuous harvest. Unfortunately, it's a technique that doesn't tend to achieve the desired results with onions. Here's why:

 

Onion growth is driven by average temperatures. The number of warm days correlates directly with onion leaf formation. To generate new growth, onion plants require temperatures of at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Earlier in the growing season, there are fewer warm days, so it takes more time for new onion leaves to grow.

 

A new leaf is generated when the onion reaches approximately 180 "thermal heat units." To calculate the heat units for a particular day, first determine the average temperature by adding the day's high and low temperature and dividing by two. Then take that number and subtract 45 from it (the minimum temperature required for onion growth). That gives you the number of heat units for the day.

 

When temperatures are consistently higher, leaf formation occurs in fewer days, so more onion leaves grow in a shorter period of time -- and more leaves means larger onions.

 

Onion maturity -- when the onions bulb and are ready for harvest -- is determined by both daylength and total accumulated heat units. The daylength requirement varies by variety, but in order to initiate bulbing, onion plants must attain a total accumulation of 1,000 to 1,200 heat units from the time they are planted. When daylight hours and the accumulated heat units reach the appropriate threshold for each onion variety, the onion will begin the bulbing process and stop growing more leaves.

 

If you plant the same variety several weeks apart, the later planting will mature about a week later since the threshold for heat units may not be met when the proper daylength is reached. The onions that were planted later will have had less time to grow foliage, so you'll just get fewer rings and smaller onions.

 

If you plant much past the recommended planting time for your area, the "days to harvest" information on our Web site and in our catalog will not apply. We know you sometimes have to plant a little past your date, due to weather issues. But because the growth and health of your onions relies on both temperature and daylength, following the recommended planting schedule as closely as possible is the best way to have the tastiest, most robust onions.

 
Happy growing,
signature
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

Spotlight on Longtime Customers
The Waguespack Family

Meet Donald and Arlene Waguespack of Lake Arthur, Louisiana. They've been growing with Dixondale Farms since 2004. The Waguespacks grow our Short Day onions, and always share their harvest stories and photos with us. 

 

The Waguespacks grew 3,000 onions one season, including the Hybrid Southern Belle Red and 1015Y. They have a family get-together to harvest their onions every year.

 

They were featured in our 2013 catalog with their Hybrid Southern Belle Red onions, and were also the first winners of the 2011 photo contest! We love to see this family's onion harvest -- in fact, we've used many of their pictures in our catalogs through the years.

Featured Products
Growing Aids

We offer numerous products to help you fertilize and protect your produce. All our fertilizers and feed-and-weed products come in four-pound bags, as well as our new resealable 12-pound bags. 

 

product of the month Dixondale Farms Onion Special 10-20-10: This exclusive fertilizer contains a blend of organic humic acids and essential micro-nutrients that onions crave, such as magnesium, zinc, boron, copper, iron, manganese, and molybdenum.  

 

 Dixondale Farms Feed and Weed 10-20-10: This is a unique fertilizer and organic pre-emergent herbicide all in one. The 100% natural corn gluten meal blocks weed germination, so you can establish your onions in a weed-free area, while our fertilizer blend provides the nutrients necessary for huge, delicious onions.

 

All Natural Feed and Weed 2-5-3: This purely organic product combines an all-natural fertilizer with the pre-emergent weed control power of corn gluten meal. It's ideal for preparing a weed-free bed and feeding your onions up to size without resorting to chemicals.
  
Treflan Herbicide Granules: This does a bang-up job of pre-emergent weed and grass control, handling the toughest weeds. Just mix granules into your onion bed before planting. They're now available in the four-pound Treflan bag pictured to the right.
A Note on Onion Plant Size

Recently, we've been getting calls about why some onion plants in the bunches you receive vary in size. This is because the seeds don't all germinate at exactly the same time. As a result, those that germinate first will be a little larger than those "born" a few days later. However, they will be just as robust and tasty as their slightly larger siblings when they mature! For more information, check out this video.

From Our Friends
Long Day Harvest!

Customer George Gaerte reports,

 

"I thought you might want to see how your onions did in Indiana this year. Everybody wants to know how to raise onions like that. I planted four different varieties, and I am very pleased with the results. Here's the Long Day Sampler harvest." The four of his seven grandkids in the picture are Lance (13), Caleb (11), Zach (9), and Julia (7). 

 

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
Highlander Receiving High Scores

Those of you who loved our Big Daddy will be even more amazed with our Highlander, which has many similar features -- plus more! This yellow

hybrid has been an excellent performer since its introduction last year.

 

It's easy to cure, extra-early maturing, sweet, and will grow in both Intermediate and Long Day areas.

 

And if that weren't enough, it stands tall against the two most common onion diseases. This golden beauty stores up to five months, but they'll all be eaten up before then!

Cooking with Onions

Baked Onions

  • 2 large yellow or white onions, peeled
  • 2 tbsp. tomato juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika

Cut onions in half crosswise and place, cut side up, in a baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan on low until butter is melted; stir well. Pour over center of each onion half and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

 

Recipe courtesy of Dixondale Farms. For more delectable recipes, visit our Web site.  If you have a recipe you'd like us to print, email it to customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.
Q & A: Order Your Onions Early
Q: How far in advance of my shipping week should I order my onions?
 
A. We often remind you to order your onions as soon as possible, because we do sometimes run out of certain varieties before the shipping season is over. This is because the size of the harvests vary each season. Rest assured, if you order well before your shipping week, we will save your plants until that date!
Fun Onion Facts

Back in the 1500s, people placed cut onions in their rooms as a preventative against the bubonic plague. Back then, germs hadn't been discovered, and they thought illnesses were caused by miasmas -- bad air. Obviously, the smell of onions can drive out the bad air (who doesn't love the fresh, sharp scent of cut onions?), but we now know that onions don't absorb germs after 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 customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.

 

Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success.

Join Us on Facebook and Pinterest!

Facebook Icon Join the community of friends and growers on our Facebook page. You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, photos, recipes, weather information, and other tips.

 

Now we're on Pinterest too! Check out our pins, which cover every aspect of onion-growing -- including photos and stories from fellow growers, how-to articles, and a wide variety of guidance for growing the best onions ever.