|Your Questions Answered||July 2012|
We hope you're enjoying a robust onion harvest this year!
Here at Dixondale Farms, we strive to provide you with as much guidance as possible, so you can be a successful onion grower. We've found that the "All Your Questions Answered" link included in each newsletter is one of the most popular features. Since so many of you find this information helpful, we are sharing it here for all our readers.
When to Order
When should I order my plants? Our onion plants for the upcoming season can be ordered beginning November 1, 2012. From that date on, order any time during the growing season, and we'll ship on your requested date. If you're ordering from our catalog, your customer number is located on the back cover, above or beside your name on the mailing label. Payment is required when your order is placed, so that your plants will be reserved to ship on the day you requested.
How many plants are in a bunch or bundle? We use the terms bunch and bundle interchangeably, but each of them contains about 60 plants.
If I can't plant when I receive my plants, how do I store them? When you receive your plants, immediately take them out of the box and spread them out in a cool, dry area. DO NOT PUT THEM IN WATER OR SOIL while waiting to plant. The plants are in a dormant state, and should be planted as soon as possible. The roots and tops may begin to dry out, but don't be alarmed -- as a member of the lily family, the onion can live for three weeks off of the bulb.
When should I plant? The recommended planting time is 4-6 weeks before your last average frost date.
Onion Plant Care
Should I water the onions when I first plant them? Yes, the transplants should be watered immediately after being planted. They won't grow new roots unless the soil is loose and moist, so it's important to maintain adequate moisture. Avoid overhead irrigation, which encourages foliage diseases.
How often should I fertilize? The first application should be three weeks after planting; then repeat the process every 2-3 weeks. Stop fertilizing when the onions start to bulb, which is about three weeks before harvest.
Should I pull the dirt back from the onion when it starts to bulb? The bulbing process is gradual, and there's no reason to pull dirt away as long as you keep the soil loose. In fact, pulling the dirt away can cause sunscalding (sunburn) of the onion skin. Remember that the bulbing process requires more moisture in any case; and if you increase watering, the soil should remain loose.
Harvesting and Storage
How do I know when my onions are ready for harvest? An onion is fully mature when the top falls over. Bending the top over will only stop the bulbing process, so don't be too eager to harvest. You don't have to wait until all the tops fall completely over to harvest, but harvesting early may cause the onion to sprout during storage, since it hasn't finished the bulbing process.
How do I harvest? Once the tops have fallen over, pull the onions out of the ground and let them dry in the garden for a few days. It's a good idea to cover the bulb of one onion with the top of another to prevent sunscald. When you remove the onions from the field, clip the roots at the base and clip the tops as well, but leave 3/4-inch of the neck to seal and protect the interior from decay. Discard any decaying onions. Never let a single decayed onion touch another, since the decaying process will spread.
Any tips for storage? Store your onions in a cool, dry place with good ventilation. Sweet onions store for a maximum of three months, but storage types will last throughout the winter. The best way to store them is in mesh nettings or pantyhose, hung in a well-ventilated area.
The questions answered here cover the topics we're asked most often. We also feature a customer Q&A in most issues (though not this month), so be sure to check that section in upcoming issues for other onion-related topics.
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Product of the Month
Here's a dandy product that makes the job of removing onion roots and leaves a whole lot easier. This set of onion shears is the same type of tool that professional onion field workers (including ours) use to snip the tops and bottoms off mature bulbs after they're harvested and field-dried. Each of our workers has to process 5,000 pounds of onions or more during the season, so you know they require a solid, durable, ergonomic tool. While you probably don't have as many onions to worry about, these steel shears make processing your onions a snap (literally!), helping to ensure a quick, bountiful harvest.
From Our Friends
Our friends Bob and Janet Hopkins regularly show at the Indiana State Fair, both on their own and with their grandkids, Robbie and Alley, who show in the 4-H programs. In 2011, Jan won Grand Champion with their 10-pound bag of Super Star onions, as you can see in this photo.
We've featured the Hopkins family in our last few catalogs, and look forward to receiving more photos of their prizewinning onions in the future. We appreciate their continued loyalty. Congratulations, Bob and Janet!
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|A New Addition
Currently, we're building a new "cooler shed" to store harvested products so they don't have to travel the extra 13 miles to the packing shed. The local traffic has grown due to the recent oil boom, so it takes a while to shift the produce to the current packing shed.
Once the new cooler shed is finished, we'll be able to pack whole truckloads from there. Meanwhile, we're still busy with our summer crops of cotton and maize. Cantaloupe season finished a couple of weeks ago!
|Cooking With Onions|
- 4 ripe, firm peaches, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- ¼ cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
- ¼ cup finely chopped orange bell pepper
In a chilled non-metal bowl, gently stir all ingredients together and cover. Refrigerate for 90 minutes before serving.
This month's recipe is courtesy of South Carolina Peach Council.
|Fun Onion Facts|
American onion consumption has increased by at least 70 percent in the last 30 years, which seems to us only natural, considering the many uses and pure deliciousness of your typical onion. The National Onion Association reports that the average American now eats about 20 pounds of onions a year, as opposed to 12.2 pounds back in 1982.
Part of this increase may be due to an increase in the popularity of onion-related foods in restaurants, including onion rings, onion "blooms," and the application of more onions to pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Red onions have become especially popular in restaurant fare.
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, photos, recipes, and even weather information and other tips.
When Mother Nature presents unexpected challenges in certain regions, we often post suggestions on our Facebook wall. For example, on July 2 we posted an entry about high winds in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states blowing over onion tops early -- which usually means the onions won't finish bulbing. Take a look to see our advice on the subject.
We've been posting quite a few videos
on Facebook, too. Be sure to check 'em out!