Complete guide on Onion farming
Onion is a cooking spice and herb that is very medicinal and has much financial potential when cultivated in larger quantity.
Onion is a round shaped herb that it’s bulb is grown in the ground like a root crop, It comes in many sizes and colours, such as red, yellow and white.
It is a warm weather crop, hence it does not require cold temperature or too much water or rainfall.
This crop is one of the most popular spice crop ever! as it is cultivated and demanded all over the place in the world and it is a very good economic crop because it is a very good export crop and tens of countries who can’t cultivate enough for themselves tends to look forward to importing which makes the crop much more important.
It is grown by many countries, but here are the top onion producing countries according to the amount they produce – China 22,300,000. India 19,299,000. Egypt 1,903,00 Turkey 1,904,846. Russia 1,984,9 Iran 2,381,551.
United States 3,159,400.
Brazil 1,299,815. Mexico 1,252,441
Asian countries are the highest producers and exporters of onion.
Disclaimer, this statistics above might not be thoroughly valid as it might change from time to time.
Now let’s dive into the topic! In this article, I am going to tutor you on how to farm/cultivate onion successfully and some of the informations you need to know about it in order to succeed in it’s cultivation.
You are going to learn about the Varieties of onion, preparation of onion farm, planting of onion, how to take care of onion garden/farm, storage and the uses.
I suggest you read carefully and understand all of them!.
Varieties of Onion
There are 3 main Varieties of onion, each of them are different form one another based on climate condition, colour and size, that is why I decided to explain the Varieties first so that you have in mind earlier on which variety to plant which fits your weather condition. They are:
Long Day Onions: This types of onions requires about 14 to 16 hours of sunlight.
They grow well and fine in the summer. The varieties are – Paterson, Yellow Sweet Spanish, Alisa Crag, White Sweet Spanish, Copra, Walla Walla Sweet, etc.
Short Day Onions: These types of onion does very well where there is 10 to 12 hours of sunlight, it is very suitable for the winter seasons.
The Short-day onion varieties are:
White Bermuda, Texas Sweet White, Sweet Red, Granex, Red Burgandy,Red Creole,Vidalia, and Southern Belle, Texas Super Sweet, Georgia Sweet and many more.
Intermediate – Day onions: These types of onion can do so well in any season and they requires 12 to 14 hours of sunlight.
The Varieties are – Red Candy Apple Cabernet, Candy Onion, etc.
Now let’s assume you have examined your weather or climate and have chosen the best variety that fits your climate, let’s dive into the preparation process.
Preparation of onion farm
When you have chosen the type of onion to cultivate, based on the climate condition of your location, then it’s time to arrange your garden/farm, then order your onion sets to plant
First there should be a farm or garden where the farming will take place. So make available a good site for it.
The land should be free from water-loge, the soil pH should be between 5.5 to 6.8 or a little bit more and onion thrives more on sandy loam and and sunny land, it does not do well on land full of stone or gravel, clay or compact land.
The above land condition should be met before you site the land for onion farming.
When you have the land, now prepare it for onion cultivation, do this by clearing the land off bush and trees in totality as the trees might prevent the penetration of good amount of sunshine, also the land need to have nitrogen.
If the land meets the requirements above, but have alot of stones, rake them very well if you can and make sure the land have not been used to farm onion in the past 5 to 8 years, there is a reason for this, I will explain it below.
Make sure you clear all the leaves and grasses in the land and burn them, this act should take place around the mid of February, March or April.
also you might like to learn about sunflower cultivation
When the farm is totally cleaned up, make holes of about 2 inches and 4 to 6 inches apart or make small ridges of about 6 inches tall.
Planting Of Onion
When the farm is ready and the onion sets or seeds have been gotten, then choose the method you are going to use.
There are 2 methods of planting onion, they are:
Sowing directly: This is a method of onion farming, in which onion sets ( small plantable bulbs) or seeds are sown directly to the farm or garden and they germinate and grow there till they are matured and harvested!.
This method of sowing directly is done when the climate or weather condition is excellent and very suiting to the type of onion to be sowed.
To sow sets directly, make holes in farm according to the size of the onion bulbs (sets) and plant them, covering with soil and leaving the sprouted leaves out on the surface.
To sow the seeds direct, just make small holes, maybe with just your fingers and place them in the ground with a gap of 4 inches or a little bit more from each other.
When you have sown them, (be it the set or seed) it is very important to water them always and carefully not to over water them, 1 inch of water is enough for an onion crop in 2 days.
It takes about 2 weeks before the seeds could sprout and start growing, this is why the majority of farmers prefer the set to the seed because set is faster and resistance to frost and does very well than seed with the necessary care.
also read about guava Cultivation guide
Mean while, in mild regions with a longer growing season, seeds are also a good option as well.
Transplanting: Another good method of onion farming is transplanting. In this method, the onions are kept in a container or containers filled with good farming sand with enough soil nutrients.
This method is very applicable when the wether condition is not yet friendly for sowing onions, and they are farmed for a little while inside the house/shade so that they could be transplanted when the weather is warm and friendly to do so.
Both seeds and the bulbs are done this way.
For seed, it is advisable to place them on top of the sand and leave them there, exposed to sun light on them and also watering, which will make them sprout.
They will require a temperature of 6.8 to 7 ° F to sprout.
The bulbs are also done this way, but they are placed inside the sand and their leaves outside for sun light to also penetrate them.
When transplanting them, bring them out carefully in order not to damages the soft roots, transplant them to the farm and water them frequently.
Care of Onion farm
When you have successfully germinated and have sowed the onions, the work is not yet over!, in fact, it is just starting as you will have to take care of the onions so that they could grow well and you will harvest good and large quantity of onion bulbs.
Fertilizer: Applying fertilizer is very important as they need this to grow properly. Onion require good amount of nitrogen to do great, so fertilizer should be applied frequently on at least on a 2 weeks interval.
In some of my articles, I do recommend organic manure like the compost, and animal dungs, please avoid them on onion crops as those manures will bring about decay and rot to the onion bulbs, unless you apply them for months on the land, so that they will be fully settled in the soil before the onion are sowed.
Crop rotation: If any other crop does not require crop rotation, onion requires it alot. You can not grow this crop in a particular farm or garden in a period of less than 4 year or 8 years in some cases.
This is done simply to avoid onion diseases that might be in the soil, so rotating the crop for a long period of time gives the land time to repel those bacterias and heal.
Watering: We all know the importance of water to farm crops, that is the reason why irrigation are made, so as to sustain the crops with water, onion is not much different from other crops, but you need to be careful in watering onion crops as they need lots of water, but does not like too much water, so in my recommendation, 2 cooking spoonful of water is enough for a single onion plant for a day, depending on the type and also rain fall will supply it’s own water and there won’t be any need to water them again and you can preserve the water in the soil by mulching.
Weeding: Weeding is another great way to care for onion farm.
Although onion has a very short life span of about 3 to 4 months, this does not mean there are no weeds which will spring up and compete with them.
weeds will start to show up in a matter of 3 to 4 weeks or even less, depending the soil, when this happens, try as much as possible to remove them immediately because onion is very prone to diseases and pests, leaving them may breed both Diseases and pests to the crops.
Diseases and Pest Control: like I said earlier, onion plant is very prone to different kinds of diseases and pests which some of them are:
The maggots are the one possible pest of onion, It is 1/3 inch long and whiteless Worm that move in a line from one bulb to the next and make holes upwards to feed on the stems.
To prevent the excessive damage, scatter onions plants throughout the field, It will discourage the adult flies from setting their eggs at the roots of the plants if you put a thin layer of sand around onion bulbs.
There may be a chance to affect scarcely visible onion thrips during hot, dry weather. It causes damaged plants with shiny spots on the leaves.
Thrips overwinter in weeds, maintaining the GARDEN clear. Help you to reduce insect populations.
Covering a studious mulch, such as aluminum flake, amongst rows may be the efficient way to deflect the thrips.
The earlier you can discover the problem, you can spray bulbs with Beauveria bassiana or spinosad to combat thrips.
A disorder called smut makes swelling up or hardening of leaves just about the neck, which ultimately blasts and drops dusty black spots over the plant.
In the middle of the summer during warm, humid weather downy mildew, a purplish mold, shows up.
Onions are moreover subject to pink root, it makes roots turn different colours and after that it shrink, and the neck spoilt, due to this reason, tissues become hard and black crust.
All these issues are made by fungi in the soil and can be eliminated by rotating crops as I have said earlier and by working humus within the onion bed to accommodate good drainage.
It is also important to inspect the onion garden for animals that might enter into the farm and destroy the crops, to be on a safer side, guide the garden with net if possible, and also keep the onion bulbs safe against rats and cocroaches for I have noticed that these pests destroys onion.
At some point in time, the onion will break the ground and spring up a bit, this normally happens when they have matured or are almost matured for harvest, don’t try to cover them up with sand again, leave them there for the sun to shine on them because it is good and remove them immediately the rain starts as they could be destroyed by much rain.
Harvest of Onion farm
At about 2 and half to 4 months, the onions will be ready for harvest, this solely depends on the type you planted.
At this time, they will bear flower, the top will turn to yellow and then to brown, when this happens, just know that they are now matured for harvest and should be harvested as soon as possible or too much rain may spoil them if left unharvested.
To harvest onion farm, you need tools like the farm fork or nice and small farm shovel.
In some cases, the onion bulbs will be already out on the surface and it’s left for you to just pull them out gently, If not, use these tools I mentioned to harvest them by gently digging a little around each of them thereby softening the ground, after this pull them out gently and be careful not to wound any of them or they will start spoiling from there.
After harvesting, cut the bulbs 1 inch from their leave or cut only the bulbs careful in order not to wound them on the process.
After harvesting, take them to the hot sun and spray them there for the sun to heat them for about 2 weeks before storing.
This will help to dry and prolong them during storage.
Storage of onion
After drying them under the sun, store them.
to store them, you have to consider some types that are not good for long time storage. The sweet onion is a type of onion that should not be stored for a long time or they will spoil, in this case, sell or use them first before the other types.
Clean the sand or dirt’s on them and place them in a bag or basket that allow air to penetrate and put them in a normal temperature ( neither hot nor cold) shade or room that has enough ventilation in it.
Note – it is not wise to store any crop or food with onion, because it is either the onion’s odour will over shadow and spoil their taste or they spoil the onions,so it is more safe to store alone.
And don’t store closer to an inhabited room because of the odour.
Uses/Advantage of Onion
Onion is a well known medicinal crop/ herb as it is used to cure many things such as The Sting of Scorpion and snake bites.
I have seen this face to face where a person who was suffering from the pain of a scorpion sting ate heap of onion and the pains disappeared in less than 4 minutes.
Not only scorpion sting, is is also believed to relieve pain from bee and insect sting by rubbing raw onion water on the spot.
It is also said to cure wound by cutting and placing onion on the wound. Also years ago, cough syrup were made from onion juice.
Onion is used as a spice and without it, many foods cannot be completed, foods like stew, soup etc and it is the king of almost all fried foods.
onion is very rich in vitamins which is why many doctors and herbalists do recommend it for eye cleaning and protection.
It is believed that taking onion before bed time and placing them on your feet can cure cold.
Apart from food and health benefits, Onion cultivation/farming could turn any farmer into a millionaire if he/she cultivates it on a large quantity as it is on high demand both local and on international level.
I hope you have learned alot about onion farming, please share this article on social networks, who knows you might help somebody in need of this information.
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