Shallots-Fall Planting vs Spring Planting

malnaMay 6, 2014

I started growing shallots last year. Bought a pound of French Red seed stock (spring planted last March) and harvested just shy of 6.5 pounds.

As a test, I planted about a dozen in the fall (and we did have a wicked cold winter) and the rest of what I had set aside for seed stock this spring (late March). I only lost one over the winter.

Here's the comparison today:

I'm somewhat surprised that the spring planted ones are as close in size to the fall planted ones as they are. They're catching up rapidly.

I'll be keeping track of the harvest - I'm so curious if there is any difference in size and number of shallots between the two.

Any predictions?

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I planted shallots in fall and in the spring also. I noticed the spring planted ones are doing really well. I'll be keeping an eye out on those to compare in the ends as well, if they are still distinguishable by then. I was guessing it is due to the lingering winter temperatures. But, this is my first year planting them, so I have no comparison.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:52PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

I've done the same thing; planting bulbs last fall and this spring.

I'm also testing the difference between planting small bulbs and large bulbs. I want to know which size bulb planted results in the biggest harvested bulb size. So far the large bulbs have divided much more than the small bulbs. I think that's an early indication that the small bulbs will be bigger since they have to compete less amongst themselves.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 8:24PM
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Generally in the shallots and the closely related potato onions, the bigger the set the more and smaller the divisions, the smaller the set the fewer and larger the division all other factors being equal. There is a difference in potentials for size and numbers of divisions between varieties, though. Some will never get really large and conversely some will never do much division; there are probably not any that will do both at the same time.

In my zone shallots are somewhat less than dependably hardy when fall planted, but they do not keep as well as the potato onions, either. IMO if you can get good keeping spring planting is much safer, and I do not see all that much difference in size and division potential. In New Jersey in any kind of normal or well mulched winter though hardiness should not be a problem. I would say that if your gardening tends to be time short in the spring plant in the fall, otherwise it makes little difference with these so long as you do your spring planting early.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:49AM
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So far, it looks like most of the fall planted ones have fewer bulbs, but larger. The spring planted are mainly smaller (still a nice size though) but more numerous per plant.

These are the same two plants in the picture I posted above. I think I'll do some of each every year.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 2:57PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

The results that go with my previous comment:

There was no significant size difference for me between Spring and Fall planted shallots and the difference in number of bulbs produced wasn't significant.

Nor was there a significant size difference between large and small bulbs planted. The smaller bulbs that I planted resulted in slightly smaller bulbs harvested but they were also very lightly shaded by some Egyptian onions. So that accounts for that difference. The main difference was the number of bulbs per plant. The small bulbs produced less than the large bulbs.

Now, this wasn't very scientific. The shading being an issue and the fact that it wasn't repeated but it's enough to convince me. So I'll continue planting in the Fall so that I don't have to deal with wet soil in Spring (plus there's other things that need done at that time of Spring). And I'll continue planting the large shallot bulbs to maximize my output.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:46PM
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I did not see much difference this year in my potato onions either, not in the yellows nor the whites between spring and fall planting. Neither one multiplied very much, but both got larger than normal bulbs, by some little bit. I have not had very good luck fall planting pure shallots; so I no longer grow them, but I have my own to plant back in the potato onions, which keep much better.

I think I will rely on fall planting myself in the future, but keep back a few as assurance against winterkill. I agree that time is not so much an issue in October as it is in April and May. IMO bed preparation is more important than whether they go into the ground in spring or in the autumn.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 9:11PM
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I planted shallots purchased at the feed store last fall.I got huge tops which bloomed but never died down.Finally ,I cut back all the tops in the spring, hoping the bulbs would finally get the message & mature to be harvested.Nope. Since then, I have a whole new crop of green shoots from multiple little unmatured bulbs.
They just won't quit.
People here use "onion tops" from shallots to sprinkle on gumbo & most everything else. Do I have a mutant Cajun shallot that never matures/develops a papery skin or am I missing something? I've grown onions before, so maybe I'm expecting onion type behavior from shallots.Don't stores sell mature shallot bulbs, though?? The original bulbs I purchased looked like that. I think...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:15AM
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Are you sure they weren't bunch onions? I know some people call them shallots... Most of my shallots have already gone dormant..

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:55PM
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mav72 ,
Thanks, for your thoughts.I'm wondering about exactly what I bought. The feed store had the bulbs marked as "shallots. "But, you might be right.
At least they're healthy & indestructable.But my entire raised bed's now devoted to something permanent, which wasn't my original intention. Guess I can dig them up & share .

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:19AM
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If those that bolted did not actually bloom but instead set a cluster of bulbils that might be the size of a small marble on top of a tall, rounded stem that looks to be more or less inflated, chances are you got a natural hybrid allium called tree or walking or Egyptian onions. There are a lot of different types, but very few are commercially available any more. Mostly these get passed around between friends and relatives by clusters of the bulbils; so there is quite a bit of variation from area to area more in what they are called than in actual type although there is definitely some of that, too.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:56PM
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Just saw your comments. Thanks!
If they were in response to my posts, no, I've grown Egyptian onions before & what I've got now are something else.
Egyptian onions are great.Sometimes the state market bulletins have ads for them.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 9:51AM
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Well, here's the final totals for this year's shallot harvest (after drying and curing and trimming).

Fall planted - average 5.56 oz. per bulb planted
Spring planted - average 4.43 oz. per bulb planted

As I recall, I had put aside the smallest ones for replanting. I have very few small ones this year, so it will interesting to try and select planting stock-I just want to eat the big ones!

Harvested close to 10 lbs. so I'm a happy camper :-) Fun experiment.

Edited to correct my math (yes, I flunked math in 3rd grade...)

This post was edited by malna on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 7:48

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:09PM
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Interesting! I haven't had good luck with fall-planted shallots, but I do grow hybrid shallots from seed started in late winter.

This year's crop is trimmed and almost finished curing, so I got the scale out. I didn't have to do much math because most clumps weighed just shy of 4 oz, regardless of whether they were doubles or big compound singles. I had zero bolters this year.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 3:23PM
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david52 Zone 6

I'm a novice at shallots, figuring I was latitude challenged (37.3úN) never had any luck until this year planting a hybrid seed (at link) started in mid-february. They're doing great - about half have formed 1 - 1.5 inch bulbs, the rest just thick stems.

My question is - should I leave some of them, heavily mulched, over the winter? Or would I be better off pulling the lot, eating/drying them, and start fresh next year with more seed?

Here is a link that might be useful: link to seed

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:54PM
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My experience with the seed-sown shallots like Saffron is that they stay dormant through winter, and are not in the mood to make foliar growth in the fall. The long dormancy (storage) period is part of their appeal. I still have a few from last year that are edible.

That said, if I were to see a bulb that didn't want to rest I would definitely plant it. I've had this happen with other alliums, not (so far) with the seed-sown shallots.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 8:33AM
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