In this issue...
  • Product of the Month: Onion Shears
  • From Our Friends
  • From Jeanie's Kitchen
  • Q&A: Bent-over and Crushed Leaves
  • Onion Factoid
  • About Dixondale Farms

  • Affiliations
    How to Handle Common Onion Problems June 2007

    Dear Fellow Gardener,

    We hope both your summer and your onion crop are going well. While we're done shipping onions for the season, we still have plenty of growing and harvest aids in stock. And remember, we're always available for customer service from 8AM to 5PM Central Time. Call us at 877-367-1015 or email us at

    By now your attention has no doubt shifted from planting to the practical realties of taking care of your onions. This newsletter focuses on how to prevent disease and how to deal with it if it does strike your crop.

    Let's start with pink root, a soil-borne fungal disease that causes onions to be underdeveloped and discolored. The disease gets its name because the onion roots often take on a pink color as they rot. In most cases, the pink root fungus gets into the soil when new plants are introduced into the garden, so be sure to check all new onion sets for discoloration, and don't plant them if they don't pass inspection. As with other soil-borne pathogens, if your onions come down with pink root, you can avoid it in succeeding years by rotating your crops and growing something besides onions in that particular plot for a few seasons.

    Purple Blotch is distinguished by a purplish discoloration of the onion leaves. It's caused by another fungus, but not a soil-borne version; this one spreads through the air during periods of high moisture. The results can be stunted bulbs during growth, and bulb rot in storage. To avoid purple blotch, apply a fungicide to the crop.

    Yet another fungus, Alternaria, causes the problem of tip die off, which is sometimes confused with pink root. Tip die off causes the tips of your onion plants to turn brown and die. You'll need a well-drained soil to prevent this disease; if your drainage isn't the best, cut back on watering a little to reduce the risk of your onions contracting the disease.

    Insect infestations can also sicken your onions. Thrips, for example, often attack onion plants, causing the leaves to turn gray. The thrips themselves are very small; they'll be visible as tiny yellow or dark specks. They (and other insects) can be killed off by the application of an insecticide. Root maggots, on the other hand, strike at the base of the onion root, causing rotting. This problem is best handled by an application of beneficial nematodes, tiny worms that will kill the root maggots and protect your onions from other parasites. For advice from a professional agricultural extension agent on other ways to handle root maggot infestations in your onions, click here.

    Rot strikes harvested onions that are placed into storage too quickly. If you remove the tops of the onions improperly, you can expose the bulbs to fungal pathogens present in the soil. Your best bet is to wait for the tops to become completely dry before removing them. It's also a good idea to make sure your onions have plenty of room between them in storage, so that one bad onion won't spoil the batch. Check the stored onions regularly, and discard any that have gone bad.

    Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

    Onion Shears Product of the Month: Onion Shears

    Our onion shears are the ideal tool for clipping the tops and bottoms off your mature onion bulbs. They're ergonomically designed for quick, easy removal of roots and leaves on onions or any other alliums, and they're exactly what our professional onion harvesters use.

    Learn more

    golden with onions From Our Friends

    Our buddy Dave tells us,

    "The picture enclosed is a sample of the onions old Buck and I harvested last year. Left to right: Ringmaster, Big Daddy, Candy. I've gardened a lot of years, but have never grown onions as nice as these. Your product arrived on time and in very good condition. Very satisfied. Keep up the good work!

    P.S. I don't know what I got myself into. Everyone who tries your onions, wants them!"

    We love hearing from customers. Send us your favorite "onion photo" and we'll try to include it in a future newsletter. To email photos, send them to

    From Jeanie's Kitchen
    Caramelized Onion-Topped Steaks with Horseradish

    • 3/4 cup thinly-sliced onion
    • 1/4 cup Kraft Light Done Right Light Italian Dressing
    • 4 beef tenderloin steaks
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1 tablespoon horseradish

    Cook the onions and dressing together, in a large skillet on medium heat, until the onions are tender. Then push the onions to the edges of the skillet and add the steaks, cooking them for five minutes on each side until medium rare. For well-done steaks, cook them a few minutes longer. While the steaks are cooking, mix the sour cream and horseradish to make a creamy horseradish sauce. Serve the steaks topped with the onions, with the horseradish sauce on the side. Baked sweet potatoes and steamed green beans make ideal side dishes for this entrée.

    Courtesy of Kraft Food & Family catalog

    Q&A: Bent-over and Crushed Leaves

    Q. What should I do if the leaves of my onions are accidentally bent over or crushed before the onion bulbs are completely formed?

    A. Onions with bent or crushed leaves may stop growing before the bulbs are completely formed, and may even contract fungal diseases if the leaves are broken. You'll also have problems storing these onions, so it's recommended that you use them immediately upon harvesting, rather than trying to dry and store them. They might not be of the best quality, and aren't recommended for selling, but they'll still be tasty.

    Onion Factoid

    According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest onion ever was grown by one V. Troup of Silsden, England. It weighed in at ten pounds, four ounces. Now that's a lot of onion rings!

    About Dixondale Farms

    As the largest and oldest onion plant farm in the US, 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 by clicking here.

    Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success. If you have either questions or suggestions, we'd love to hear from you. You can reach us from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Central Time at 877-367-1015, or email us any time at In addition, we encourage you to give us feedback on our products via the Product Review options on the website.

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