Aug 20, 2015
Plant overwintering onions now

As the market demand for more locally grown produce harvested year-round increases, onions are a crop that seems to be receiving a great deal of attention. Season extension and overwintering techniques utilizing plasticulture technology can be applied successfully to growing onions, adding financial value to your farm operation.

During last winter the University of New Hampshire reported successfully growing bulbing onions in the fall under low tunnels for a spring harvest. This occurred over a two-year period in 2012 and 2013. Plants had been seeded in August and September and transplanted in September and October into raised beds covered with black plastic. The low tunnels were covered with 1.25-oz /yard row cover and one layer of 6-mil plastic. These onion cultivars were then harvested in May and June of both 2012 and 2013. Researchers and scientists at the University of Kentucky have also reported success overwintering long-day and intermediate-day onions.

Our 2015 Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations Guide lists Bridger, Hi-keeper, T-420 and Toughball as recommended varieties to overwinter. All four are direct seed yellow storage onions with long keeping ability. If you think you might have a market for onions, you might want to give them a try this fall.

Overwintering Bunching Onions

Continuing along the same lines of thinking, a newer trend has been to overwinter green onions, as well. Two varieties recommended in the Penn State Commercial Vegetable Guide include Evergreen Long White Bunching and Southport White Globe.

Onion Varieties to Consider for 2016

When we talk about onion production and how onion bulbs are formed it depends on the photo-period or in other words the amount of day length. Typically for Pennsylvania, long-day and intermediate onions have been those that are recommended here for commercial production.

Furthermore, characteristics such as skin color-white, yellow, brown or red, sweet or pungent taste and shape-either round, flat or globe need to be taken into account in terms of what your customers want.

Penn State recommendations are available here.


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