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

  • Affiliations
    Preventing Sunscald June 2009

    prevent sunscald Dear Fellow Gardener,

    Last month, we took a look at bacterial soft rot, one of the most common problems that onions face. This time we'll look at another: sunscald.

    Sunscald isn't actually a disease; it's heat damage. It's primarily a problem for seedlings and mature bulbs, and seems to strike white onions especially hard. The scalded areas look bleached, as in the accompanying photo, and are soft and slippery.

    Causes of Sunscald
    Sunscald is most likely to occur during curing after harvest, especially if the onions are lifted before they've matured enough to develop their protective wrapper leaves.

    You can avoid this form of sunscald by using a method called "shingling." The onions should be placed on the ground in windrows, with the tops of one row covering the bulbs of another, as we've illustrated in the photo here. The onions are then left in that position until the tops become dry. The length of time required for the tops to dry depends on the weather, and may be anywhere from 3-10 days.

    Sunscald can also occur as the result of direct sunlight on dark soil, which can raise the surface temperature to over 150 degrees, scalding the onions at the soil line. Keeping the soil moist, but not wet, can help keep soil temperatures from rising too high.

    How to Recognize Sunscald
    Scalded onion tissue is initially pale, soft, and slippery, but it soon dries and shrivels up, becoming brown and necrotic. Unless the affected onions are cured rapidly, the scalded areas can leave them open to infection by bacterial soft rot, neck rot, gray mold (botrytis) and other diseases during storage.

    All that may sound pretty nasty, but just keep in mind that it's easy enough to avoid sunscald. If you'll moisten the ground when it's hot and sunny, and be extra careful during the curing process, your onions should be just fine.

    Happy harvesting,

    Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

    candy apple Product of the Month
    Ten Pound Box of Red Candy Apple Onions

    We proudly announce the very first commercial crop of Red Candy Apple onions! This intermediate-day hybrid was developed by Dixondale Farms to be so sweet that you can literally eat it like an apple. And for a limited time of just two weeks, you can order them by the ten-pound box, just like our sweet yellow onions -- and for the same price of $18.95 per box ($17.95 if you buy two boxes or more).

    Better snap up some of these beauties before they're gone!

    Learn More

    dixondale child with ribbon From Our Friends

    Proud father Richard Schintler sends us this:

    "Here is a picture of my daughter Faith with her award-winning onions (Candy, I believe) at the North Central Kansas Free Fair last summer. Her onions were by far the largest and best looking! Thank you for a great product."

    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.

    dix farms Around the Farm
    The Harvesting Process

    We're often asked how we harvest our onion plants. Well, our workers collect them from the field in bunches, tying them together with rubber bands before cutting the tops off so that the bunches will fit in their containers. Each variety is placed in a color-coded container in the field; these containers are then sent into town for packing in USPS or UPS boxes.

    Pictured here is one of our loyal workers, Juan Sanchez, who drives 50 miles each way to work every day. Juan works so fast that it takes him about 5 hours to make his self-imposed daily quota.

    Cooking With Leeks
    Chilled Leek Soup with Caviar

    • 5 leeks, sliced thin
    • 4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 4 ounces of caviar
    • 1/4 cup of chopped chives
    • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter
    • 3 cups of chicken broth
    • 1 1/2 cup of heavy cream
    • 2 cups of water
    • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons of salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper

    This is a unique take on French vichyssoise, the famous chilled potato soup.

    First, melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, add the leeks and stir well, completely coating the slices with the butter before adding the salt and pepper to the mix. Then turn down the heat and cook the leeks for ten minutes, or until they're soft. Next, add the water, potatoes, and chicken broth, and bring the pot to a boil before turning down the heat and allowing it to simmer for 20 minutes.

    Turn off the heat, and allow the soup to cool to room temperature. Then puree it in a blender until it's smooth, and refrigerate it overnight or until thoroughly chilled. Immediately before serving, whisk in the cream and lemon juice, and season to taste. Add a sprinkling of caviar and chives, and serve.

    Makes 8 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: How Do Onions Handle A Wet Spring?

    Q. Here in Indiana, we're experiencing an extremely wet spring, and I am concerned about my onion plants.

    I grow all my vegetables in raised beds, which under normal circumstances drain quite well -- but not this year. I planted First Edition and Yellow Sweet Spanish starts on April 10th, and since then have experienced more rainy days than those with sun. How worried should I be about rot, and what kind of crop can I expect?

    A. Excellent question. Onions don't like "wet feet." They like to take up just enough moisture to get their nutrients and to generate carbohydrates in the tops. When they experience excessive moisture, they basically shut down until they dry up and can generate solid carbohydrates. Their development will fall behind, but generally speaking they will still make onions, though those onions won't be as big as you might expect if the conditions were better.

    Also, once things dry up, your onions will need two things: nitrogen, and a fungicide to kill all the microbes growing on the leaves due to the wetness. Nitrogen will have been leached from the soil by the rain, and if you don't start fertilizing every two weeks, you'll have a rotting problem in storage. Be religious about applying fungicide every 10-14 days, too. The bacterial and fungal spores have been created, and they will show up when the onions ripen.

    Fun Onion Facts

    For some reason, onions have been the subject of a surprising number of public laws. For example: in Grant's Pass, Oregon, it's perfectly legal to chuck an onion at an annoying salesman who won't stop bothering you. On the other hand, you can't purchase onions after dark in Tamarack, Idaho without a special permit. And if you eat an onion with a spoon in Okanagon, Washington, you just might end up in jail.

    But this one takes the cake: if you're a husky lady who likes to wear comfortable clothes, be extra vigilant in Ridgeland, South Carolina. It's illegal for any woman over 200 pounds and wearing shorts to be seen eating an onion in any public place, even a restaurant!

    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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