Growing my own onion seed

billy_kain(8)June 9, 2008

Hello,

I want to have my own strain of onions. The problem is getting the seed to make at the correct time.

First, I planted the little onion bulbs you buy and plant in the fall. Following spring, most bolted and made seed before bulbing, so I tossed them out.

This year, I planted started plants that I bought in bundles. Planted these on New Year's Day. Most of the Reds either bolted, or did not make a bulb. I do have a few good bulbs, but how do I store them until next spring? That's a long way off.

The 1015Y onion did best, but I read that you should plant it October 15th. Are they talking about planting seeds on Oct. 15th, or planting back the bulbs that I just dug up?

From what I read, I should not use seed from a plant that bolted, because I would just be re-enforcing a bad trait (onion is a bi-annual).

Basically, I want to plant seeds, harvest onions, plant the best ones back so those can make seeds. I just can't get the timing down.

I live in NE Texas and am dealing with short day onions if that is important.

I know onion seed is cheap. I know onions are cheap. If I didn't know, I have a wife who reminds me on an almost daily basis. It is a personal challenge kind of thing.

Thanks for any help,

John

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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

John,

So what you're trying to do is go seed - bulb - seed over a period of two years, right? Our climates are way different but I think the process is the same. For the first year, you'd start with seed and go through the standard process of creating a large bulb (up here, I have to either start the seed inside in January or order pencil thin plants from Dixondale that I set outside in April). Once the top falls over naturally you'd dig the onion and cure it in the shade for 3 or so weeks and then store it until you replant it in the fall - you could probably also just leave it in the ground if you have the space. Suzanne Ashworth recommends either 32-45 or 77-95 degrees and 60-70% humidity for storage so my guess would be that it's easier for you to store at the high end by just hanging them in a shady part of the carport. The one set of temps you don't want to store them at is around 60-70 degrees since they'll sprout very fast.

Then, in the fall - probably in the mid-late October timeframe for you, you'd replant the bulb and let it go through a winter so it really experiences it's second year and in the spring, this bulb will put up the seed stalk, flower and then die (i.e. limited / no bulb formation) and once you've collected the seed, the cycle starts over again.

Sooner or later, you have to use seed from a plant that has bolted ... it's seed from the plants that bolt in a single season rather than two years that you don't want to use.

It sounds like an interesting experiment and I've only done it a couple of times by missing onions at harvest time. Good luck with it.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 1:00PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

John, October 15 is the target date for planting 1015Y onion seed. Seeds planted then will produce plants ready to set out in December. Onion sets (small bulbs) have different timing and I have no experience with these.

I plant Granex 33 (a relative of the 1015Y-see reference below) in seed boxes. No need to thin plants in the boxes as they easlily separate. They transplant exceptionally well. I keep the freshly planted seedboxes in the shade so that the soil remains moist. Once the the seeds have germinated I place the boxes under the roof overhang to get afternoon sun. I set out the plants in the first half of December. Harvest starts around mid April.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Onion That Came to Texas But Never Left the Same

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 2:00PM
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billy_kain(8)

Hello,

Thank you for replying. I am on a friend's computer, as mine has been out since the last electrical storm (over a week ago). Will have to digest this information and reply when I am back online.

Thank you for any help,
John

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 3:52PM
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