WHEN DO YOU HARVEST ONIONS?



You cannot beat the flavour of home grown onions so the last thing you will want is to lose the crop to rot once you have harvested them. You need to pick them at the right time and you need to dry them off thoroughly. It is all about time, but how do you know when it is the right time for harvesting onions?

When growing onions, it is important to give them as long a growing season as possible in order to allow the 'bulbs' to reach their maximum size.

In general, main crop onions should be ready for harvesting any time between August to September, but this will depend on both the weather and individual varieties.

The onion bulb will be mature when the foliage turns yellow and begins to tip over, but from this point you will need to leave them for another couple of weeks before lifting.

Most of the onion tops fall over by themselves, but any that don't can be bent over by hand.

Try to avoid leaving the onions in the ground for longer than a couple of weeks after the tops have died back as they become open to organisms that can cause rot in storage - or they might even start growing again!.

Choose a dry, sunny day and if the onions are fully ripe they will lift easily from the ground by hand, any problems and you can carefully ease them out of the soil with a gardening fork.

Weather permitting, let the onions sit in the sun for another day or so to dry further - in hot climates this usually takes just a few hours. This drying kills the root system at the bottom of each bulb.

They will now need to be dried and depending on the weather or the size of your onions it will take approximately 2-4 weeks for them to properly cure.

Some people cut the tops off the onions before curing, but that's not strictly necessary. However, if you do trim the top leaves, don't cut them any closer than one inch from the bulb otherwise the neck won't dry out, and the onion could rot in storage.

One of the best ways to cure  onions is to spread them out in warm, airy place out of the sun, such as on a porch.

However, if you live in an area prone to rainfall then consider curing onions in an airy shed or garage. Turn the bulbs a couple of times to promote even drying.

They are now ready for the kitchen.

If any of your onions have developed thick 'necks' over the growing season, use these ones straight away as they will not store well and are prone to neck rot.

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