Oh no my onions flowered!

austinb82(USDA 8)June 10, 2013

Hi, I planted some onion sets in March and I noticed that many of the onions have flowered and sort of fallen over. I've read that this is a bad thing and that they will never form mature bulbs now. I read this can be due to irregular weather patterns causing them to think they are in their second year. That would make sense with the warm dry early may, cooler wet late may and now warm dry weather again. So am I correct in that these onions will no longer form mature bulbs and I need to find another use for them?

Also, I still have some onion sets in my basement, would it be too late to plant another round in their place? I know they won't get as big but maybe I could at least get some smaller onions by harvest time? Thanks.

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planetes(7b (Cascadia - PNW))

You can try to trick them into bulbing a little bit more by breaking off the flower stalk but they probably won't get too much bigger. You can still use them though, just use them first because they won't keep very well.

As far as planting a second set goes: you can plant them but they are daylight triggered to initiate bulbing (length of days). It depends on whether it's a short day or long day variety.

If it's a long day variety because we're so close to the solstice, they'll probably never receive that trigger since days will be shortening by the time they're established so likely wouldn't initiate a bulb.

If it's a short day variety AND you get lucky, they'll establish before the length of days drop below they're threshold and they'll start to bulb. The resulting bulbs are likely to be small though.

Now, that said there is another option.. you can plant them and grow them intending to use them as green onions/scallions.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Good advice above.

My suggestion as a long term Oregonian is next year, don't plant sets, plant starts. Starts are little plants that look like mini scallions. You can grow them yourself or find them at nurseries in the spring.
Onion sets are way too prone to bolting just the way yours did.
Sorry you found out the hard way....

-Mark

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 9:11AM
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austinb82(USDA 8)

I do have a heat mat and light to start my own from seed for next season, when would I start them, sometime in the winter i'm assuming? Is it worth it to try overwintering them or will I run into the same problem with them bolting?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 9:31PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Onions that will overwinter and bulb in the spring are very specific varieties. I think if you use those sets again, i'd expect more bolted green onions (which are fine for lots of things).

I start my onions the first week of Feb in my greenhouse with no lights. There are lots of posts on this forum with tons of details on how to use lights and heat mats inside if that's your best option.

-Mark

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 1:52PM
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