When to Harvest Onions?

peter_6July 10, 2005

What's the cue to start havesting onions? I refer to plain yellow storage onions. Some of mine have started to lie down, but the bulbs are only about 2 1/2" wide. Regards, Peter.

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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

That width, 2 1/2", ain't bad for yellow storage onions. I'm struggling to get some Copra even close to that size and they've all flopped! If your plants have toppled on their own, the end is near. May be another 10 days or so when the tops begin to die. What will happen is that the neck of the bulb will seal off. At that point, the tops may still be green but no longer receiving any water from the root system. Then they are ready to harvest.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 10:12PM
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Martin, thank you, especially for the 'why' of it. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 2:08PM
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Martin--I planted Copra April 10th. If the time for maturing is fairly accurate at 110 days, mine should go to around July 30th.Did you plant earlier than the tenth of April? How long were your Copra in the ground when they flopped?
My Candy are huge this year, but Mars, on same hill are not impressive. A few big ones, but mostly average and s smaller in size. I think I need a better red onion. Any suggestions? Geezer

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 11:20PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

Geezer, I was just talking onion maturity with another gardener this evening. This is her first time growing onions and they are making mine look sad in comparison. But then, a free water faucet is probably no more than 10 feet away from her plot! My Copra and Mars were planted around 7 April or so and I fear that what I see is what I'll get. Copra is about done and Mars is quickly following suit. With me, it's a case of trying to fine a happy medium for soil. It must be loose enough to allow drainage and expansion in a normal year. But it can also dry out too much in a drought year. For nearly 2 months, all but about a half inch of water has come from a 5-gallon pail. I'll have some Copra and Mars onions that are hard as a rock but I won't have any good size. For certain, they should last a day less than forever!


    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 11:54PM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

Martin, am I understanding onions grown with less water will store longer? All else being equal, of course.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 10:09PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

Nanelle, less water means a higher concentration of other elements which are needed for long storage. The sweet and juicy types of the South won't keep for very long. The sharp-tasting and hard ones from the north may last for a year. The difference is mainly water content.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 10:27PM
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Water and onions--Dixondale's pamplet for growing large onions states that during the growing season onions require 30 inches of water. At 110 days for some onions that would require 2 inches of water per week during that period. Two inches a week for most northern soils would be way too much water. 30 inches must be for places like Texas where the soil is close to pure sand where the water drains quickly and where it is hot as the hinges of hades most of the growing season and there is a high rate of evaporation taking place.
Martin do I have this right--pour all the water to the sweet onions for size and lay off the onions like Copra for better storage?
You might as well grow the sweet onions as large as possible because they don't store well anyway?
On the other hand, if you don't pour the water to the sweet onions, they might be smaller but sweeter when eaten? I know from experience that in dry years only relying on rainfall, many fruits and vegetables are sweeter at harvest time.Smaller than normal, though. Geezer

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 10:55PM
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I'm new to gardening, and I am trying to find out when the right time is for me to harvest my onions. The green part of them is about 6" to 12" tall. How do I know when they fall over? Like I siad I'm new to this and don't want o harvest them too early or too late.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 5:39PM
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So I had an onion in the cupboard longer than normal. It began to sprout green stems. So out of curiosity I took it out to my garden, dug a hole, and threw it in. It has been in the ground for about 2 months now. The stems are now 18 - 20 inches tall with white blooms on them. My question is have I just made my 1 onion a little bigger, or am I actually growing more onions?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 9:27AM
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It will be smaller because it's working on flowering rather than growing it's bulb. It will produce seed that you could successfully plant, but onions suffer from inbreeding depression if they are self pollinated, it's best to collect seed from a group of flowering plants, not just one.

I've found that my bulbs grow considerably after the stem has flopped over, but before the neck gets really flimsy. You can look at and feel the neck where the stem flops over and decide when it seems the leaves are no longer supporting the bulb. Some varieties seem to get top-heavy and flop over many weeks before they're finished.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 6:21PM
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I planted red onion starts on march 21. I was curious as to how long they should grow before harvest. Any help or opinion would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 1:43PM
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David: As I understand it, grow them until the tops fall over. After a week or two of that, they can be harvested.

There's also little reason not to pull them up earlier than that I should think, if you want a fresh onion to eat.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 4:43AM
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We have a small and productive veggie garden on our patio. This year, for the first time, I planted red onions. We live in the desert and daily temps are already over 90 degrees F, on most days. I planted small onions bulbs on February 3 and today pulled one up to see if they're ready to harvest. The onion was no bigger than 1 inch. The plants have not "toppled over" either. Do I let them be? Will they continue to grow in this heat? Any advise would be greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 5:43PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Feb 3 to Apr 20, That is not even 3 months. Onions, need more time, maybe 5 months or more. Also, if you read the previous comments, you will know that when the top almost dies, then its the time to harvest. As long as the top is healthy green, the onion is still working on the bulb.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 11:27PM
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my red and yellow onions are trying to bloom. Should I cut the blossoms off before it opens?Will they still make bulbs if I do this?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 8:04PM
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Peter 6 you harvest when they look like this.

I harvested this Texas Super Sweet yesterday.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 8:14PM
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I planted my onions in the first week of April. They are now 12-18 inches tall and very green. The red onions seem to be standing up tall while the white and yellow ones are lying down. In fact they have been laying down now for about a month now depending on the plant. But they are still very green and if I dig around the onion they are only about 1-1.5 inches around. What's the deal? Why are they laying down when they obviously aren't done growing the bulb? And should I be concerned that most of them are laying down this early? This is my first time planting onions and I appreciate any advise on this matter, thx...

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 3:43PM
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all of my reds are one thick stem and flowering, still standing tall. Will these bulbs be worth harvesting or only for seed. Can I remove the flowers to promote bulb growth? The yellows and whites are already toppled over.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 10:36AM
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I read thru this thread and as a first time onion grower i need some clarification. Do onions flower then topple? I dont think thats right because if they flower then they aren't working on bulbs. Do you pinch the flower buds until the plants give up then harvest after they flop over? What is the sequence here? Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:21AM
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Matt, not knowing where you live and what type of onion you planted makes it difficult to answer your question. There are long day onions for planting in the north and short day onions for planting in the south. If your onions are laying down, they are probably done bulbing and have started to seal off the top of the bulb. Don't water at this point. You want them to dry out.

Layton and Mari--Onions do not usually flower unless it is a second season of growning for them. If they flower they are working on seed production and not bulbs. (That's why it is not a good idea to leave bulbs in the ground for next year.) Onions that bulb should be harvested and used shortly thereafter. Trying to keep those for storage will result in disappointment.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Thanks everyone the fog is slowly lifting.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 9:30PM
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