Onions are a vegetable from the species of the genus Allium and most widely cultivated. Therefore for plant onions can prove a little tricky but nothing a few care steps won’t solve. Onion is a significant crop which, despite being hard to grow has enormous importance in the market globally. There are many varieties of onions, and it is best to plant the type of onion that is most suitable to your region’s conditions, climate, and soil. Onions can be grown from seeds or sets.
Seed plantation allows a variety of options to plant onions. The most befitting time for seed planting is from late February to early April. Seeds are to be sown ½ inch deep and 8 inches apart in rows. Onion sets are best to be planted from mid-March to mid-April; however, they can also be buried from September to early October. Sets should be placed gently into the soft soil deep enough so that only the tip is visible and the ground around it should be made firm. They should be planted at least 12 inches apart in rows and 4 inches apart from one another.
Onions need to be watered regularly but most importantly, right after being planted. They do best in sunny and sheltered sites. Fertilizing the land monthly and making sure the beds are weed-free is important to ensure healthy and efficient growth. Once the onion bulb is fully grown, it should be watered less, and the upper part must be exposed to the sun. Remove any rotten bulb or infected leaves to avoid pests and diseases.
- Treat onions like a leaf crop.
- To plant onions weekly is essential to obtain big bulbs.
- Cease fertilizing once bulbs start growing.
- Water once a week. Even though onions do not require much water but watering more would make them taste sweeter.
- Be sure to water consistently in drought conditions.
Onion crop is ready to be harvested after 4 to 7 months of planting. Delaying the harvest can cause decay; however, some expert cultivators delay gathering for bigger bulbs. Onions should be harvested carefully to avoid damage. Once dug out, the bulbs should be left under the sun to dry out.
Onions must be stored in cold, dry, and airy areas with stems removed, at a temperature of at least 40 degrees. The sweet onions can not be stored as long as the pungent ones.
Like any other crop, onion plants can catch diseases and pests too. Here is a list of few pests and conditions with their solution:
- Bulb mites
- Leaf miners
- Onion maggot
- Bulb mites cause stunted plant growth and can cause the bulbs to rot. To avoid this pest, make sure to remove any crop debris and residue from the soil before plantation.
- Leaf miners are caused by insects which make the leaves end up being thin and white with ending trails on them. Early infestation can affect the yield by reducing it. To prevent leaf miner infestation check transplants before planting and use an insecticide spray after identifying the infestation.
- Onion maggots cause the seedling to wilt or stunted. It can also cause the bulbs to be deformed and eventually rot. Avoiding maggots is possible by adequate sanitation and an application of some proper granular insecticide. Using row covers and removing wild plants can be a good care measure.
- Black mould
- Botrytis lead blight
- Downy mildew
- Black mould is a fungal disease that causes lesions on the outer scales, and the bulb can turn black from outside. Use fungicide on seeds before plantation to avoid this disease.
- Botrytis lead blight is also a fungal disease that causes small white lesions which eventually get more significant with time. To avoid this disease, space plants apart properly in rows to allow air circulation and use appropriate fungicides.
- Downy mildew is a disease that causes patches and pale spots on the leaves. The leaves turn yellow, and the tips fall off. Crop rotation is a way to avoid this disease. Do not use an infected set and destroy any crop debris before planting.
Types Of Onions
- Sweet onions
- Maui onions
- Red onions
Scallions These onions are green in colour and sweet and mild in taste. They are long and thin and are sold a lot. They are added to many dishes as they are known for their freshness and excellent taste.
Sweet Onions Though they are called sweet onions, they make you tear up like all the other onions. They are rich in flavour and are crispy and mild. People usually caramelize them to add sweetness to their dish
Maui onions They are found in the islands of Hawaii, thus known as Maui onions. They are sweet in flavour and very juicy. They are used in salads or any other snack in a raw form as they are very fresh and mouth-watering.
Leeks They look like scallions in appearance but taste nothing like them. Unlike scallions, they are not used raw but are cooked in soups or curry.
Ramps They are not found everywhere as they grow in the wild. They have a short harvest season; thus, they are more expensive than the others. They are different in taste than other onions, having a rich garlic flavour.
Red onions These are mostly sold in the markets and are magenta. They are very spicy if eaten raw however when cooked they pick up rich balsamic flavour.
Onions are considered very healthy as they work as unique antioxidants that prevent inflammation, decrease cholesterol levels, and reduce triglycerides. They keep our heart healthy as they protect against the clotting of blood. Raw onions have higher sulfuric concentration thus are far more beneficial than cooked onions. The fibres found in onions also help in keeping our digestive system strong and healthy.
Onions are used in almost every dish around the world as they add rich flavour to the food. Asia is known for its use of onions in every dish, let it be a side dish or a snack. Thus onions always remain high in demand, and the farmers earn enough by planting onions.
Onions are a widely cultivated vegetable used in almost every household for various reasons like cooking, in salads, etc. They are a nutritious vegetable with immense health benefits. Even if onions are a little hard to grow the crop is always worth economically because of its high demand in the market.