Just a clarification question about storage onions

macky77(2a)August 23, 2011

There's so much great info in all the threads here that I don't usually post many questions. Thanks to everyone who's asked my questions before me! :)

All my LaSalle onions were ready to harvest this past weekend, so I pulled them on Saturday. Right now, they're laying out on a bridge (we got it cheap at an auction of a playground manufacturer who was getting rid of damaged pieces) in our yard. They're in the shade all day except when the sun is low in the evening. We've covered them with plastic at night when it looks like a dew will be forming and removed the sheet promptly in the morning. They've not gotten wet since they were pulled. Most of the necks are collapsed and dry already; I may have left them in the garden longer than necessary because we've been so busy.

Are they fine here out in the open or do I really need to move them to a basement or garage? Neither of our two garages have space as they're currently filled with construction supplies for a current project (and hubby's junk). All our (dry) outbuildings are filled with hay and straw for the winter. If they have to come in, they have to go to the basement.

We've been having nighttime lows of 9 and 10ÃÂC now and the trees are starting to turn. I read through this thread (link below) and a poster mentioned that you do not want to bring onions in from a cold temp to a warmer temp because they'll start to sprout. I'm pretty sure the basement is warmer than 9 degrees. It's still getting into the high 20s during the day (was 32ÃÂC on Sunday). Advice? I just want to make sure I'm understanding this process correctly. This is the first year I've had a significant number of onions size up this nicely. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: link to GW thread on onion storage

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macky77(2a)

Pic was taken when I pulled them; the tops aren't that green now. And in case you wonder why I've harvested the pumpkins already when there's still some green there, it's because the vines were pulverized by a recent hailstorm and didn't recover. No point leaving them out there. Okay, I think I've got all my bases covered now, lol.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 2:00PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Well you have to bring them inside sometime, don't you?

When the tops are completely dried with no moisture at the neck, clip the tops and the roots, put them in boxes or onion sacks, and cure them in a warm, well ventilated place for another week.
Then they can store wherever you plan on keeping them for the winter.

You might speed up the tops drying by putting them in the sun with the tops from one onion protecting the bulb of another. Sort of the reverse of how you have them in the pic.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 1:21AM
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macky77(2a)

Obviously.

I'm asking about the curing process. Are they fine curing outside or should they move indoors to cure? At what point do I switch from curing mode to storage mode (different temps)?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 3:25AM
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planatus(6)

Warmth and good air circulation are important at this point. Don't move them to a cool basement until after the necks have dried down. Are there some nooks in the haybarn where you could put them for a week or two? Sounds like the best place to me...

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 4:51PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Some people just don't get the obvious. Be glad that you do. Or at least you think you do.

Right now you're not curing, you're drying.
Get the tops dried any way you can, normal temperature fluctuation is fine. Use the sun to help as I suggested.
When they dry, clip the tops and then cure them.
Curing is done in a warm, dry, ventilated place. Probably not outside covered with plastic for the night.

Keep in mind, this is how I make my living. I want my onions to last as long as possible so I can sell them before they sprout. If you're unable to do what i'm suggesting because you don't have space, time, etc, you won't have optimal storage. Life goes on. Some onions will sprout before you finish them all, most will probably last well into the winter.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 11:22PM
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farmboy222(5B)

Onions are really tough . Last spring I found some small onions I had left on the ground over the winter , and they survived the snow , the freezing , the rain in perfect shape. I found some more I had left in the barn over winter in a pile of wood shavings . They too were in perfect condition .

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 5:42PM
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