Onion Harvest...not sure what to do next

jill2761(Southeast Texas)May 29, 2013

I may have boo-booed on my onion harvest. I'm a long time poster/reader on the Harvest Forum, but this is my first time here. I've read a lot of old threads with onion harvest topics, but I need some additional advice. Sorry this is long and wordy.

I'm in southeast Texas...the days are in the 80's now. The onions are big yellow onions (don't remember the variety the husband planted), and we have been using them as needed, but now the majority of the crop is ready to harvest, I think.

The tops didn't "fall over" but most of them are definitely turning yellow and brown and drying up. The onions have formed really nice, big bulbs that are about 2/3 above the soil. Some are almost at the very top of the soil.

I'd read to "push them over" when the tops flopped or dried, and misinterpreted that to mean push the entire onion over. So I pulled all the onions or pushed the onion over and left it to lay in the row. Some had the roots barely attached to the soil, and some seemed still rooted.

So now the plan was to leave them in the row for a day or two and then bring them in to a covered porch to cure. I see some rain clouds in the sky and now I'm worried about them getting rained on out there.

I started reviewing harvest instructions and have seen a variety of suggestions. Some say push the TOPS over or step on them, but to leave the onion in the ground for another 10 days or so.

What should I do now that the entire onion is all the way over and out of the ground?

Will rain hurt the exposed bulbs or just wash off dirt?

Should I go ahead and bring them on in to lay out on my screened porch?

I would appreciate any and all suggestions.



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Rain won't hurt them unless they stay wet too long, but since they are already out of the ground, I would harvest them and spread out in a dry place like a shed, garage, carport to cure. Most likely these are Yellow Granex which are not noted for keeping. However once cured, I have kept them for 5-6 months in a refrigerator.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:54PM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

Thank you...

Since it was being to look more like a storm was coming, I decided to do exactly what you suggested. If the rain had been during the day, it might have dried quick enough, but if it waits until nightfall, I didn't want them wet all night. Anyway, I brought them all onto my screened porch and have them in some harvest boxes I made (3" high wood sides, no top, hardware cloth bottom). Onions only one layer deep and boxes are propped up on one end to let some ventilation flow underneath. Also have a fan running. This might all be overkill...?

Last year, our onions lasted several months in a pantry closet. I had them stored in knee high hose with a knot between each onion, then each "leg" hung on a cup hook in the closet. This is the coolest room in the house, but they were not refrigerated. I just cut off an onion as needed. I think they lasted about 5 or 6 months after harvest, when I used up the last one. I don't think they would have lasted any longer anyway, as the the last two or three showed signs of getting soft.

So what is the optimal method of harvesting, so I'll know for next year? Bend the stems after they start falling, and leave the onion in the ground for a few more days before pulling up? Or just pull and harvest once the stems dry up or start falling over? How many of you leave them pulled and in the garden for a few days?


    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 4:28PM
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The method I use is to wait until about half of the tops have flopped over by themselves and then I'll knock over the rest, which allows the onion to seal at the neck.

Rain, after harvesting, is problematic as I discovered last year. I had pulled the onions and left them on top of the soil to dry when a sudden and intense rainstorm left them floating in a sea of water. They didn't keep very well.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 8:01PM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

That's what I'd misunderstood! I knocked over the onions, not the tops! :-)

It never did rain today, but the sky still looks stormy. I'm glad I have them on the porch. Will the necks dry properly now that I've pulled them all up? Most of the stalks had begun withering, but some of them still seem moist.

I was surprised to see a lot of onions that were split into two or three bulbs instead of just one bulb. I divided some of those, but left others joined. Not sure if they will dry properly as there is no papery skin between the bulbs.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 8:46PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

I think that if you've got them in a dry place out of the sun, with good ventilation, the necks should dry down just fine. It could take a few weeks so, be patient.
Probably the worst that could happen if you pulled them a little early is that they won't keep for quite as long.

As far as the divided onions, they should cure fine but use them up first as they will likely not keep all that well. Older varieties like Granex have a tendency to divide into multiples like that.

I'm glad you got some nice onions this year.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 1:02AM
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Jill - new to onions here and in SE TX as well. When did you plant yours. Mine were late I think, the white onions stems have all blown over in the winds over the last week and the yellows are starting to get knocked over. The whites are only about 2 inches in diameter but the yellows are between 3 to 4.

Going to chop them all and freeze in water and then pack them in vacuum bags. Do that with store bought onions and they last over 1.5 years in freezer, plus they are already chopped when I go to cook.

Keep up any advise on planting in SE TX if you don't mind. A real green horn here.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 10:18PM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

I don't remember when ours got planted, but they were planted late, too. We had to buy onion sets and replant because some critter ate our seed starts. I harvested about 10 days ago and have been drying them on our covered back porch and turning them every two or three days.

I'm not sure why you are going to freeze the chopped onions in water, as it isn't necessary. Admittedly, I've never tried it that way, though. I freeze a lot, too, but I just chop and package in the size I'm most likely to use in cooking. Then I just have to open and use. Frozen ones are best in cooking instead of eating raw because they won't have the same texture after freezing.

If you have a cool, dry location to store the fresh onions--sometimes hard to find in SE Texas--I had good luck storing them last year. I used pantyhose or knee high hose knotted between each onion and hung each "leg" from a cup hook in a closet in my pantry. They kept well for several months. I ran out of onions about the time the last couple began getting soft.

Good luck...and happy to share what little knowledge I possess! :-)


    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 10:32PM
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