Onion set question

wayne_perrier(z9 CA)May 15, 2005

Hope someone can help me. I planted these sweet onion (large round ones, when mature) sets in October 2004. It is very rainy here in the winter and gets down to the 30's, with daily highs in the 50's generally. They sprouted but were very slow-growing. We've still got them growing, but .....

The plants look pretty healthy right now, but are not really bulbing -- if I dig carefully around one, the base looks something like a small leek but not a sweet onion. Each onion plant has formed a big thick flower stalk with an unopened flower bud on top.

Are these onions toast ? Should I snip off the flower stalk ? Will they grow to maturity and give us some nice round onions ? What should we do ? Thanks in advance.

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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

Sweet onions are sometimes short day, meant to be grown over the winter in the south, and begin bulbing when the days lenghten past a certain number of hours. The length of a day depends on your longitude. In MY zone nine onions sometimes bolt (or flower) before they start to bulb, because it gets a little too cold in the winter, or they are meant for the north and the daylength isn't long enough. I'd cut off the seed head, and consider using them as green onions if all else fails.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 6:07PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

Indeed, your onions are probably "toast" by now. Those flower stalks should have been pinched off as soon as they appeared. From that day on, every bit of energy went into producing that stalk and the blossom. So much so that any bulb which was being formed was also consumed. In the end, you get nothing for your efforts.

Next year, use your set onions only for scallions. Buy plants instead and avoid that problem.

Martin

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 11:05PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

Thanks Nanelle and Martin:

I don't really understand what happened. These onion sets were supposed to turn into a nice 3-4 inch bulb. What will happen if I just cut off any flower stalks that form ?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 11:14PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

Wayne, as you know, onions are biennial. They bloom the second year. When you plant sets, you are planting them in what they think is their second year. Then they will rush to seed if they are too large to start with. You set them back a year by breaking off that flower stalk as soon as it appears. Used to be that one considered any set larger than a dime to be too big for bulb purposes. One sorted them out and planted the small ones in one row and larger ones in another. The larger ones were used for quick scallions. What I've now seen happening is that the sets are becoming larger and larger. This coincides with availability of plants almost everywhere. Now, if one wants bulbs, one plants plants. If one wants scallions, one plants sets. The problem is that it's going to take a few generations to get used to that since onion sets traditionally have never come with instructions.

Martin

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 2:33PM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

Your good Martin...how did you know he used sets versus seeds?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 3:17PM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

I see it now..I planted these sweet onion (large round ones, when mature) sets in October 2004.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 3:18PM
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snappybob(SaTexas Zone 8)

Wayne, for a quick but pretty good education on growing onions do a search for Dixondale Farms. They have a lot of good info on their site.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 5:59PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

Thanks everyone

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 1:59PM
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