In this issue...
  • Product of the Month
  • From Our Friends
  • Around the Farm
  • Cooking With Onions
  • Q&A: Bulbing
  • Fun Onion Facts
  • Send Us Your Product Reviews!
  • About Dixondale Farms

  • Affiliations
    Preventing Bacterial Soft Rot May 2009

    Bruce & Wife Dear Fellow Gardener,

    This issue, we thought we'd take a look at one of the most common onion diseases our customers face: bacterial soft rot. I want to encourage you to do something now to prevent it.

    The symptoms of bacterial soft rot include water-soaking and discoloration of leaves to a pale yellow or light brown. As the disease progresses, the leaves wilt and turn white, eventually becoming soft and breaking down into a foul-smelling viscous fluid.

    The bacterium that causes the rot is called Erwinia, and is spread by rain, irrigation water, and insects. It can survive from year to year in soil and crop debris.

    Erwinia enters the bulb through the neck tissue of maturing plants and through damaged leaves. Insects such as onion maggots and thrips can spread the pathogen. Optimum weather for infection is 68-86º F, and the infection can continue in storage if the temperature is above 37º.

    Mancozeb (containing Dithane and Manzate) should be sprayed weekly on the crop to prevent the occurrence of this disease. In addition, there are some new products such as Pristine and Quadris that can be used in rotation for season-long control.

    For organic growers, Seacide is the most effective control. It works by coating the leaf with an oil to keep the bacterial spores from attaching to the leaves. It will need to be sprayed more often than a chemical fungicide, including right after a rain.

    Incidentally, we don't recommend watering your onions from overhead, unless you live in a desert. Doing so will cause this pathogen (and others) to get started. However, if you do, be prepared to reapply your Seacide both right before and right after an overhead watering.

    Even if you end up with beautiful, healthy looking tops, keep this in mind: the bigger the top, the more surface area there is for the Erwinia bacteria to attach to. Be sure to keep a close eye on your onions throughout the maturation and harvesting process!

    Happy harvesting,

    Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

    5lb bag Product of the Month
    Mesh Storage Bags

    Now that you've produced a successful crop, what are you going to do with all those onions? Well, you should eat the ones that have the shortest shelf-life first, and store all the rest for later use. We offer several types of mesh bags for your onion storage needs. They come in 5, 10, and 50 pound sizes, depending on how you want to handle and/or market your onions.

    Another option is our mesh netting, which is perfect for storing up to 10 pounds of onions for future use. Jeanie's grandmother used old stockings to store her onions -- but we tried to sell used stockings and no one would buy them, so we came up with the mesh netting instead!

    Learn More

    onions on wall From Our Friends

    Ben W. from Killeen, Texas sends us this message:

    "My wife Beverly and I had one of our best onion crops ever. We planted approximately 800 1015Y plants and one set of Lancelot Leeks around the third week in January. Since we didn't have a lot of extra rain this spring, it was necessary for us to keep the plants well watered throughout the growing season. We applied a light coat of 21-0-0 every four weeks or so and, for the first time, spread 9-0-0 Corn Gluten and used a hay mulch to control weeds.

    "We pulled many early plants as 'green onions' and gave numerous onions to neighbors and relatives, but wound up with approximately 400 that we tied in groups of three or four on our back porch on the north side of our home.

    "Attached is a digital image of the hanging onions. You may not be able to tell from the picture, but we did have some softball-sized onions this year. As you are aware, central Texas has a heavy clay soil. Our garden has benefited from layers of mulch, dried horse manure, sawdust, grass clippings and sand that we have tilled in over the last 28 years."

    We love hearing from our customers. Send us your favorite "onion photo" and we'll try to include it in a future newsletter, our next catalog or our online Photo Album. Click here for details on how to submit your photos.

    bruce-fraiser Around the Farm
    National Attention

    Take a look at the May 1 issue of the online magazine Multichannel Merchant, and you'll see a familiar face! In their front-page article about how the current recession has affected catalog sales, reporters Tim Parry and Jim Tierney just happen to feature everyone's favorite Onionman. When he chatted with them, Bruce knew we'd get a mention -- but he didn't know we'd be on the front cover, so to speak!

    As a matter of fact, we get the lion's share of the attention. The article discusses the way that gardening catalog sales tend to experience upward growth during difficult economic times, as people realize it can be cheaper and more satisfying to grow their own vegetables. Dixondale Farms serves as a case example: not only have we enjoyed a 16% increase in our customer base, our order size has grown by an average of 40%.

    Hey, we're glad to do our part in helping people out, and keeping the economy perking along!

    Cooking With Onions
    Hearty Onion-Veggie Sandwich

    • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup of sliced cucumbers, marinated in French dressing
    • 12 crisp lettuce leaves
    • 12 tomato slices
    • 1-1/2 cups alfalfa sprouts
    • 2 three-ounce packages of fat-free cream cheese
    • 6 ounces of thinly sliced cheddar cheese
    • 18 slices of multi-grain bread

    Spread six slices of bread with a thick layer of cream cheese, then top them with half of your onion slices and all of your cucumber slices. Next, layer on the lettuce and tomato, and add a second slice of bread, smeared lightly on both sides with cream cheese. Stack the cheddar slices, the sprouts, and the rest of the onion slices on the second deck, and top it all with another slice of bread, spread with cream cheese to taste. Then cut the sandwiches in half, slip in picks to hold them together, and serve!

    Makes 6 servings.

    Onions can enhance so many dishes, from simple salads to complex entrees; and they can also be consumed raw, fried, sautéed or baked. We periodically receive sumptuous recipe suggestions from our employees and from you, our customers. We want to share one with you each month, so that you can take full advantage of the fruits of your labor! If you have one you would like us to print, please email it to us at

    Q&A: Bulbing

    Q. How can you tell when onions begin to bulb? I've seen many sets of instructions for fertilizing onions, and they all say to stop when the onions "begin to bulb." How do you know?

    A. If you plant your onions shallow (1/2 to 1 inch deep), they'll start cracking the ground around the bulb when they start shoving the dirt away. If you plant them too deep you won't be able to realize this -- plus you'll end up with smaller bulbs, since the soil will restrict the expansion of the bulb.

    Fun Onion Facts

    The National Onion Association reports that onion consumption in the United States has gone up 50% in the past two decades, to an average of about 19 pounds per capita. No complaints here!

    Send Us Your Product Reviews!

    In addition to sending us recipes and photos of your onions, we encourage you to give us feedback on our products via the Product Review options on the Web site. You'll find a "write your own review" link on every product page. Don't be shy -- we need your opinions!

    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 e-mail us any time at

    phone: 877-367-1015
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