|Sunscald Prevention ||May 2012|
It's important to meet all the needs of your onion plants. Regular watering and feeding are obvious requirements, but don't forget about the need to protect your onions from the sun as the hot weather ramps up.
One of the adverse affects of extreme heat and sun exposure is something called sunscald. Sunscald isn't actually a disease; it's a form of heat damage. Think of it as sunburn for vegetables. It's mostly a problem for seedlings and mature bulbs, and seems to strike white onions especially hard. Scalded areas look bleached, as in the photo below, and are initially pale, soft, and slippery. But they soon dry and shrivel up, turning brown.
Causes of Sunscald
Sunscald is most likely to occur during curing after the harvest, especially if the onions are lifted before their protective wrapper leaves (the "onion skin") have developed. However, 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.
One way to protect your onions from sunscald is to keep the soil moist, but not wet; this can prevent soil temperatures from rising so high that the onions scald in the ground. Don't over-water; onions are susceptible to numerous diseases (such as bacterial soft rot, neck rot, botrytis and others) that take advantage of excessive moisture. Be sure to water at ground level, not from above.
Handle your onions with care during the curing process, and don't allow the bulbs to be directly exposed to the sun. After pulling the onions, arrange them on the ground in windrows, with the tops of one row covering the bulbs of another, as we've illustrated in the photo here. This is called "shingling." Leave the onions 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.
If you discover some onions with sunscald, immediately separate them from your healthy onions. Then cure the affected onions as rapidly as possible to prevent infection.
An Ounce of Prevention
Sunscald is fairly easy to prevent. Just keep an eye on your crop, keep the onions cool, and follow the procedures we've outlined here, and you won't have to worry about scalding.
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
As you plant your onions and get them established, remember: 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
Here are Grandpa Roger and Payton Belle, who live in Kansas, showing off part of their 2011 crop of Candy onions. They send us photos every year, and we've come to look forward to them!
Got some onion-related photos to share? Send them to us here, and you just might see your photo in a future newsletter!
|Around The Farm|From Onions to Cantaloupes
Cantaloupe Season is coming up in just three weeks! Here's a sweet picture of some of the whoppers in our first cantaloupe field. We're the only farm growing any large acreage of cantaloupes in Texas this year, so we hope we can keep all these jewels right here in our home state.
Onion Shipping -- Final Week!
We're still busy with the onion season for the next week or so, so you still have time to place an order if you've forgotten or just need additional plants. But our final last-minute orders will go out during the week of May 14, and then the 2012 onion-shipping season will be over! But never fear -- all year round, we'll still be selling products for use during the onion growing and harvesting processes.
|Cooking With Onions|
- 5 tablespoons of butter
- 1 pound of sliced onions
- 2 green peppers, sliced in ¼ inch strips
- 1½ cups cooked corn kernels
- Salt to taste
Melt the butter in a pan, then add the onions and cook on medium heat, stirring until they're limp. Add the peppers and continue to cook until they turn dull in color (about five minutes). Stir in the corn, add salt to taste, and heat through. Makes 6 servings.
Recipe from Dixondale Farms.
Onions can enhance so many dishes, and can be consumed raw, fried, sautéed or baked. Please send us your favorite onion recipe, so we can share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can email it to us here. Digital photos of your dish are also welcome!
Q&A: Preserving Your Seedlings
Q. I received my onions more than three weeks ago, and still haven't been able to plant most of them. I'm hoping to be able to do it this weekend, but they're already very dry. What can I do with them for now to help them not completely die before I can get them in the ground?
A. Your onions are going to be okay for up to about four weeks; they're in a dormant stage. Just keep them dry, and when you do plant them, be sure to give them a good drink by flooding the beds.
|Fun Onion Facts|
Eating onions may prevent ulcers. According to recent research, the natural chemicals present in onions may check the growth of Heliobacter pylori, a type of bacteria that can damage the stomach and intestinal linings, and thus cause gastric ulcers. The chemicals in onions also scavenge free radicals, naturally occurring reactive molecules than can make ulcers worse.
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.
|Join Us 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.
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!
We've been posting quite a few videos on Facebook, too. Be sure to check 'em out