Friday, April 5, 2013

Time to plant Onions

Mid to end April is the time to plant onions in southeast Minnesota. You can plant either onion plants or seed. Make sure you plant varieties that are northern long day onions. (Beware, if you shop at Walmart or Home Depot. I have seen numerous years when their plants are southern short day onions. These are the exactly the wrong varieties for this area and they will not bulb up.)

If you plant transplants they will take root within a week and be off and growing. We like to plant our plants in a 6 inch wide strip of compost, over a light fertilization. This puts the plants in a no weed zone and will allow tillage between the rows for the first 4-6 weeks.  After this we will hand weed the onions every two weeks until the end of the season.

After 4 weeks the onions should be starting to bulb up triggered by the long days of June. This is a good time to fertilize over the top of the row with fish emulsion.

By the end of June we typically start harvesting some of the sweet summer onions.

Never fertilize with sulfur if you want to have sweet onions.  The sulfur compounds in onions give them the spicy hotter flavor.

For storage onions we harvest around the labor day. It is OK to wait longer, but if the weather turns wet the bulbs can get stained or even spoil.

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