|Best Weed Control Methods ||March 2012|
Most of us have to deal with weeds in our gardens, but they need not invade your growing plants.You can take steps to stop weeds from stealing nutrients and sunlight and, ultimately, crowding out your crops. This month, let's take a look at some of the proven ways to handle weeds, no matter where your onions are in the growing cycle.
One of the best pre-emergent herbicides for onion cultivation is Treflan, otherwise known as Trifluralin. This long-lasting chemical additive blocks grass and weed seeds from germinating, though it won't kill weeds that already exist; you'll need to remove those physically. Treflan works best if you till it into the upper three inches of the soil, then water it in. It'll control weeds for up to two months, but won't interfere at all with the growth of your onion transplants.
Treflan is poisonous to fish and other marine life, so don't use it near streams, lakes, or ponds.
Corn gluten, a non-toxic, 100% natural by-product of corn milling, just happens to be one of the world's best pre-emergent weed blockers. It dries out the weed seedlings as they sprout. It's effective against barnyard grass, Bermuda grass, crabgrass, creeping bentgrass, dandelions, foxtail, lambsquarter, purslane, redroot pigweed, smartweed and more. It's an excellent natural fertilizer as well. With its 9-1-0 NPK rating, it's especially rich in nitrogen, which is needed for onion leaf formation.
Apply your corn gluten powder at 20-40 pounds per 1,000 square feet of onion bed, working it into the top 3-4 inches of the soil if possible. It will knock out the weeds for up to six weeks.
There are several options for controlling weed growth after the onions are in the ground and well established. Traditional weeding works very well in smaller beds. Another option is to mulch the onions with composted leaves and/or straw, which not only suppresses weed growth but also reduces watering needs and provides your onions additional nutrients as the mulch decays. Or, you can install black plastic "mulch" or water-permeable weed barriers. Be sure to pull the mulch back from the plants when they begin to bulb, though, to avoid fungus and to ensure that they cure properly.
There are also chemical-based post-emergent herbicides. Poast, a very effective grass-killer, can safely be used on onions at a rate of one pint per acre. Just be sure to add a surfactant (a spreader/sticker material) to the Poast to maximize its effectiveness.
If you're absolutely sure it won't rain for at least 24 hours, and you know that humidity is likely to be low, then Goal 2XL herbicide works well for controlling broadleaf weeds and grasses. Your onions should be well established, with 2-4 leaves, before you apply Goal; in other words, wait at least 2-3 weeks after transplanting before spreading the herbicide. Don't apply a full dose to younger plants, because it may damage the foliage. Be sure the foliage is completely dry before applying the Goal.
The Bottom Line
Weeds are more than just an annoyance; given a chance, they can damage your onion crop. They tend to be aggressive, which means you need to fight back just as hard. If you'll keep these tips in mind and apply these weed-fighting measures before and after planting, you'll be able to deliver the kind of knockout punch that puts those weeds down for the count and maximizes your yield.
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Weed Control Options
We're well-equipped to help you fight the war against weeds. Here are our favorite weed-killing remedies, both chemical and organic.
Treflan Herbicide Granules: This chemical herbicide does a bang-up job of pre-emergent weed and grass control, handling even the toughest weeds with ease. Just apply it before transplanting your onions. A one-pound container treats up to 1,200 square feet.
Dixondale Farms Feed and Weed 10-20-10: This is a unique fertilizer and organic pre-emergent herbicide all in one. The 100% natural corn gluten meal blocks weed germination, so you can establish your onions in a weed-free area, while our fertilizer blend provides the nutrients necessary for huge, delicious onions. This product is available in four and fifteen pound bags.
All Natural Feed and Weed 2-5-3
: This purely organic product combines an all-natural humus fertilizer with the pre-emergent weed control power of corn gluten meal. It's ideal for preparing a weed-free bed and feeding your onions up to size without resorting to chemicals. This product is available in four and fifteen pound bags.
From Our Friends
Darren from Kansas, the proud father of these cuties, tells us, "The sweet corn didn't do very well this year, but as you can tell, the onions did EXCELLENT! This is the first year I've ordered from Dixondale Farms, and will not be the last. I purchased the Intermediate and Long Day samplers.
"The photo was taken on July 27, 2011. I harvested the remainder of the onions in the morning, which filled my wheelbarrow. They are all drying before I trim them with the onion shears and place them in mesh netting. These are also a mixture of the Intermediate and Long Day samplers.
"The onions were grown on raised rows, and fertilized according to the Dixondale Farms planting guide."
Got some onion-related photos to share? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you just might see your photo in a future newsletter!
|Around The Farm|Making it Happen
Some people might wonder how we're able to keep all our onion varieties straight, and what the average day might be like at Dixondale Farms. Well, it all starts with the planting of the onions, beginning in August and lasting until February. We have 24 fields, each of which is about 12 acres in size. We plant 30 pounds of seed to the acre, so each field requires around 360-400 pounds of seed.
We stagger the plantings, and plant onion varieties according to the anticipated demand for each variety when it's ready for harvest. The great thing about living in Carrizo Springs, Texas is that it doesn't rain very often, so we're able to control the growth of the fields with irrigation.
Upon harvest, each variety is packed in either a 30-bunch cardboard box or a plastic container that's painted a certain color and labeled to distinguish it from other varieties. Harvest begins at first light, and usually, over five million plants are harvested each day -- in just a matter of hours.
The plants are then hauled into town, and the crew at the packing shed packs thousands of orders each day with freshly-dug onion plants.
|Cooking With Onions|
- 2 cups of cooked squash, sliced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) of cream of chicken soup
- 2 cups of cornbread stuffing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the above ingredients, and pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Bake about 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
Onions can enhance so many dishes, and can be consumed raw, fried, sautéed or baked. Please share your favorite onion recipe, so we can include it in an upcoming newsletter. You can email it to us here, or post it on our new Friday Recipe Corner on Facebook. Digital photos of your dish are also welcome!
Q&A: Making Bigger Onions
Q. I've been told I need to scrape the dirt back from the bulbs to get larger onions. If this is true, then please explain the practice.
A. When an onion starts bulbing, the size will be restricted if there's too much dirt mounded around the bulb. About two-thirds of the onion bulb should be above the ground. So they're right -- if the onions were planted too deep, the surrounding dirt might restrict the size.
|Fun Onion Facts|
While it's obvious that onions are related to garlic, leeks, chives, and shallots, would you believe they're also related to asparagus? It's true. Orchids, irises, amaryllis, and Easter lilies are also fairly close onion relatives...but they're not necessarily edible, so please don't chop them into your salads, okay?
All Your Questions Answered
We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click here for information on when to order your onions, as well as for tips on planting, caring, feeding, harvesting, and storing them.
|We're on Facebook! |
Join the community of friends and growers on our Facebook page! You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, recipes, and even weather information and other tips. We encourage you to add your pictures and growing stories, and to leave something on our Wall.
We've been posting quite a few videos on Facebook, too. Be sure to check 'em out
By the way, don't forget to share your onion recipes with us here -- and regularly review the posts from your fellow onion growers, to find some new recipes to try!