Onion storage

peter_6December 29, 2008

Some of my onions are rotting in storage, or more specifically layers of certain onions are rotting. They are braided and hanging in the basement. The outer soiled layers were removed, and the onions washed and dried in the shade. What am I doing wrong? Regards, Peter.

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TJG911(z5b CT)

how were they cured? did you get a lot of rain just prior to pulling? temp they are stored now?

>>>>The outer soiled layers were removed, and the onions washed and dried in the shadeif that's how you treated them after harvest i'd say that's the problem.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 2:57PM
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Tom: they were cured by lying on the patio in the shade for a week or so. There was a lot of rain while they were growing, but nothing unusual at time of harvest. They are presently stored at 60-65 degrees in the basement. The only option I have is the garage at around 32 degrees. Please expand on what you see as the problem and the appropriate remedy. Please note that I have followed this procedure for five year or so without the problem now being experienced. Thanks and regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 6:05PM
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Hi Peter,

Did your onions bolt? Onions that have bolted will rot sooner. Here is a quote from Dixondale farms on storing bolted onions:

"Should this occur, the onion will still be perfectly edible; however, as the seed-stem gets bigger, the ring associated with it will become piffy and inedible. If left to maturity, this ring will rot quickly and cause the entire onion to rot as well."


    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 3:14PM
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TJG911(z5b CT)

not sure based upon your comments.

my 1st thought was you can't store onions at 65 degrees that's way too warm. but you say you do this and it works? onions s/b stored at 37 degrees.

are you in the south or north? maybe southern grown onions can store at such warm temps?

your curing time seems to be way too short. i let mine lay in the garden about 7-10 days then put on racks in my shed for 6-7 weeks. i then cut the dried leaves and trim the roots. i put them in my basement in mid to late october where it is about 68-70. on cold nights i open the windows to get the cellar cooler. now it is 50, 30 pounds of copra are still on the shelf and the red wing are in the fridge in the cellar, all the candy are gone. soon i'll move the copra to the fridge.

i just remembered you said the garage is 32 so i guess you are up north. personally, i think 32 is better than 65. also a lot of rain might have caused them to take up too much water. i had 10 times too much rain this summer (!) but no rotting however i did cure them all for almost 2 months in the shed. i think how you cure is important and especially no water/rain prior to harvest. 2 years ago we had alot of rain just prior to harvest and i should have pulled them before the rain. that year i did have a lot of rotting or sprouting, more than normal that is.

how have you stored them? they need to be in mesh bags for air circulation.

if you have done the same thing as the past 5 years and are growing the same varieties and treating them the same for those 5 years i don't see why there's a problem this year.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 5:12PM
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You state [you washed and dried them in the shade] If you washed them in water???? that cuold be your problem. I put on a cotten glove and rub the dirt off after it dries. YOPPER

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 11:23AM
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tig911: I store them braided and hanging from beams in the basement. Is this ok? One thing that might contribute to my problem is that onions curing near the edge of the patio got rained on. Could this be the problem?

yopper: good idea; do you peel off the outer skin to ensure all soil is gone? Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 6:29PM
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PETER I don't peel the outer skin off.I rub the dirt off with the gloved hands before I put them on a rack to cur for about 6 weeks or it gets cold enough I have to put them in storage inside. Before I put them in storage I RUB the lose skin off. [I do not peel it off] Once the onions are out of the ground they should never get wet if you can help it. HOPE THIS HELPS YOPPER P.S. Tom good to see your still on the green side of the grass

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 7:07PM
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TJG911(z5b CT)

i doubt braiding hurts but i just trim the dried tops when they are done drying and put them into mesh bags. it takes at least 4 weeks and i go for 6-7 weeks to dry. thick neck onions take a bit longer to dry than thin necks. they really should not get rained on during this time. also leave room around them for air to circulate. now i have to put bulbs on green tops or green tops on bulbs when i put them on my racks (2" X 4" welded wire fence attached to a wood frame sitting on saw horses). my point is do not confine them to a box all piled on top of each other. i don't wash and unless covered in mud (in which case you should have pulled them before the rain) i don't bother rubbing off too much soil as it is dry and drops off. rubbing them may scratch the outer paper and cause shorter storage but i am just guessing at that. less is more, dry well, store in cool to cold dark place.

hi yopper, still kicking!


    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 4:21PM
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Thank you both; good info. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 9:07PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Most likely your onions are too warm and possibly also too damp. A basement always has more moisture than a garage.
We keep ours in the garage just above freezing and can always keep them until April or so. Then it starts getting too warm in there and it's the end of the onions! I think if we put the remaining ones in the basement fridge in March, maybe we could keep them longer. We still have onion sets in there from last spring that are good. If they've been cooled and then taken in to room temps, they start growing too. So store them in the refrigerator after you bring them inside, or another equally cool place.In the spring, save the largest ones you'd want to use to slice up in the refrigerator and dice up the others and put them in freezer bags to cook with, you can slam the bags on the ground to break them up and use them to cook with until your new crop comes on. That way you don't have to ever buy any onions.
It shouldn't be a problem to wash them in water after you dig them up as long as you let them dry thoroughly before storing them. I don't think that's the problem unless you soaked them in the water a couple of days!
I've always had the best luck in keeping them by putting the onions in greenhouse plastic mesh flats and then putting those flats in a single layer on wire plant shelves like I use in the greenhouse. That way the onions are in a single layer, they can get good air circulation, and if one starts to go bad, it can only affect a few around it before I notice. Ditto on sprouting onions, use them first or get them out of there pronto.
Mesh bags are almost as good as the flats/shelves, but it's harder to check on them because they're in a bag. If you do the mesh bags, be sure not to thump the bags around when moving them, handle them like they're a bag of eggs. Bruising them causes them to spoil later on.
Install hooks from the ceiling of your garage and hang the bags up so that they don't touch each other or anything else.
You can also dry them in a hot (late summer-early fall) garage by hanging them like that or putting them into the flats and putting a fan on them or leaving the door open if you're home. By the time it gets cold, they'll be nice and dry.
Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about onions. But I sell them at a farmers market and had about 500-600 lbs of them this fall to store. I probably have about 100 lbs left now.
Candy onions will keep quite a long time that way, I still have candy onions that are doing well. Even though they say storage on them is about 3-4 months, you can easily get 6-7 out of them. Red bull is the best red storage onion I've tried yet, as long as you treat them gently. They are still hanging in there quite well. Yellow sweet spanish is the best storage one I've tried so far, they are the ones I still have in May and June.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 7:37AM
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TJG911(z5b CT)


a garage is not always drier than a basement. i park my car in the garage and when it's raining or there's snow on the roads i bring a lot of moisture into the garage that falls off the car, especially snow. my basement is BONE dry, like a desert.

i agree about candy storing far longer than they say. how long does red bull store? i grow red wing and they store until april without any trouble, by then they are usually eaten then i start on the copra.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 8:29PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I'll have to let you know about the red bull. I grew them for the first year this last season, and so far no sprouters of the bulbs I've saved to test them.
I guess I forgot about people parking their cars in a garage! My business took over mine a couple of years ago. My car hasn't even been near the garage...We put up a carport to park under and now today we filled that with pallets of promix. So now it's snowing and the van is sitting out in the snow.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 5:30PM
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