|Tips for Healthy Onions||March 2013|
Growing big, healthy onions is rewarding and requires just a few steps. All you have to do is plant them, water them the right way, and provide some TLC. You do have to keep an eye on them as they mature, of course. One thing you'll need to be especially proactive about is watching for growth issues and illnesses. If you detect anything, swift action is the key to effective treatment.
Halt Bacterial and Fungal Disease
Onion diseases come in two basic types: bacterial or fungal. The first step is to look closely at your onion leaves. If they show spore formations such as these (below left), then you've got bacterial problems. Note that leaves with bacterial infections have brown marks on them; those with fungal infections do not.
You can stop bacterial diseases with our OxiDate spray, followed by Bonide copper treatments to prevent the spores from reattaching themselves to the leaves. Examples of common bacterial diseases are center rot, bacterial soft rot, slippery skin, and sour skin. All enter the bulb through the damaged leaves.
On the other hand, if your leaves look like this (right), you're dealing with fungal issues. Note the differences between the photos, and be careful in telling the two types of disease categories apart, since this will determine the treatment. For fungal diseases, the treatment is Mancozeb or Seacide (which you can order by phone through our customer service reps) sprayed at weekly intervals. Examples of fungal diseases are downy mildew, black or blue mold, purple blotch, and botrytis leaf blight.
If you aren't certain which type of disease it is, take a few leaf samples to your local County Extension Agent for a consultation.
Some Prevention Tips
Cool, wet, and humid conditions favor the spread of fungal and bacterial diseases. Always water your onion plants from the bottom. In addition, be sure to plant the rows of onions in the direction of the prevailing wind. This will help dry out your onions if they get wet, and will limit the amount of moisture blowing into the area.
If you give your onion plants plenty of room for good air circulation, avoid overhead watering (except what Mother Nature provides!) and hit them with the right preventative as soon as symptoms appear, your onions should make it through to healthy maturity -- and lots of delicious meals.
Happy Centennial, everyone!
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
After-Planting Growing Aids
This month, we feature two of our fine fertilizers for use after planting, both of which are ideal for maximizing the success and size of your crop.
Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer 21-0-0: Once your onion plants have gotten established, you'll need to feed them with a good source of nitrogen to maximize growth and bulbing potential. This product is exactly what onions need to generate more foliage and, therefore, more rings and larger bulbs. Our Ammonium Sulfate is actually good stuff for all vegetables, so don't hesitate to buy in bulk. We'll sweeten the pot with some savings: for a limited time, if you buy any combination of bagged fertilizer, you can save $3.00 per bag.
OmegaGrow: This exclusive, all-organic foliar feed has everything your onions need to grow big and strong. Active ingredients include ammoniacal nitrogen, water soluble nitrogen, phosphate, and soluble potash. 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.
From Our Friends
The Biggest Onions Ever
Fred and Martha Bailey of Frontenac, Kansas sent us this photo bragging about their latest crop of onions -- and rightly so! They tell us, "These Candy onions from Dixondale Farms were grown in southeast Kansas. In 40 years of gardening, these are the largest onions we've ever grown. We plan to plant them again next year!"
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
Basilio Campos, Legendary Dixondale Crew Chief
Goodbye, Old Friend
We're extremely sad to announce the passing of a man who has been an important part of Dixondale Farms for almost half its existence. Our colleague and friend Basilio Campos was well known as the best agricultural crew leader in South Texas. As we all know, being the best at anything is quite an accomplishment. This honor was not bestowed upon him by his employer, but by the other agriculture producers and labor contractors in the area.
To get a feel for Basilio's expertise, imagine the challenge of harvesting just a certain amount of onion plants every day. Add the additional details, like harvesting the perfect amount of upwards of 25 different varieties of onions. Now let's add one more detail: putting the right amount of onion plants in five different types of containers. And finally, consider the complications of loading all the trucks that are going out that day with the right number of containers of each variety with the correct amount of plants in each container.
Okay. Mission accomplished.
Oh, wait! Now we have to get ready for tomorrow, because the same routine is going to happen all over again, requiring just as much attention to detail. Now you have to determine how many plants of each variety are still available in as many as 30 different fields, so we know where to harvest next.
This is what Basilio Campos did every single day for 48 years during the onion harvest season at Dixondale Farms. On top of that, he and his wife Pauline raised five wonderful children who all received higher education degrees and have had long, successful careers. Basilio was committed to his family, his siblings and parents, his church, and his Dixondale Farms.
He is irreplaceable. We will miss him every day. Goodbye, Basilio, and thank you for helping make Dixondale Farms what it is today.
|Cooking With Onions|
Easy Onion Dinner Rolls
Thaw bread dough according to package direction. Lightly grease two 9 x 9-inch baking pans. Divide each loaf of dough into 9 pieces; shape into balls and arrange in prepared pans. Cover with greased waxed paper; let rise in warm place until almost doubled in size, about 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook onions in butter in skillet over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes; let cool. Remove waxed paper covering rolls and discard. Spoon onions over rolls. Bake in 375-degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.
Makes 18 rolls.
Recipe courtesy of The National Onion Association. If you have a recipe you'd like us to print, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Q & A: Bulbing|
Q. How can I tell when my onions start to bulb?
A. If you plant your onions shallow (1/2 to 1" deep), you'll know when they're bulbing because they'll start cracking the ground around the bulb as they start shoving the dirt away. If you plant them too deep you won't be able to see this. Plus, you'll end up with smaller bulbs, since the soil will restrict their expansion.
|Fun Onion Facts|
While many types of onions can reach a large size, for the truly colossal you'll want to focus on specific varieties. "Colossal" is an actual size category for onions, exceeding 3-3/4 inches across. "Super-colossal" onions are even bigger!
The Kelsae Giant is the consistently largest onion in the world; in fact, the current record of 15 pounds, 5.5 ounces was achieved with Kelsae seed by a pensioner in England. However, seed for this yellow onion is hard to get hold of, especially outside the British Isles. But no worries -- we have wonderful alternatives right here at Dixondale Farms!
Ailsa Craig (which some call the Kelsae Sweet Giant and Kelsae Exhibition) is your go-to variety for colossal onions, especially in a long-day, short growing season (they mature in just 95 days). These globe-shaped onions regularly reach 5-6 pounds in weight and can be as big as your head, if not bigger! Other potential colossals include the ever-popular yellow Big Daddy, an intermediate to long-day variety; Candy, an intermediate day yellow; Ringmaster and Sterling (both long-day whites); and Walla Walla and Yellow Sweet Spanish, both long-day yellows. Red onions tend to be smaller, producing far fewer colossals and super-colossals.
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.
It always delights us that multiple generations share the fun of growing our onions. We're treated to many pictures showing happy kids hefting their prize onions, and you'll see plenty of them on our Web site, in our catalog, and in the From Our Friends section of this newsletter. We get lots of photos of proud parents with their children, too.
But some of the photos we like best are those of grandparents with their grandchildren showing off the onions they helped grow, and often won prizes for in competitions. Some of the grandparents have been our customers for decades, and it makes us happy to think that we'll be serving their grandkids -- and maybe their grandkids -- as we move forward into our second century in the onion business.
Got some pictures to share? Send 'em our way!
Join Us On Facebook!
Join the community of friends and growers on our Facebook page! You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, photos, recipes, and even weather information and other tips. And be sure to check out our short videos, on topics ranging from how onion plants are harvested to how onions deal with cold weather.
Want to see an unusual challenge that some Texas farmers face? Check out our photo and post from February 14, and see what your fellow onion growers have to say about it.
And remember -- if you're looking to make a unique fashion statement and join us as we celebrate 100 years of business at one and the same time, you can buy one of our spiffy new Centennial T-shirts right here!