growing onions in Florida

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)March 26, 2009

I know there are two varieties of onions; one is called long day and the other is called short day. Long day onions need more hours of sunlight for the bulbs to form and grow. Short day onions need less hours of sunlight for the bulbs to form and grow.

The two varieties of onion I use are yellow and red.

Is yellow a long day variety of onion or a short day variety of onion? Likewise with red, is red a long day variety of onion or a short day variety of onion?

Which variety of onion is most suitable for being grown in Florida? The long day variety or the short day variety?

Is it possible to grow both red and yellow onions in Florida, or can you only grow red or only grow yellow in Florida? If you can only grow red or yellow onions in Florida (one or the other, not both) which variety is most suitable to be grown in Florida, red or yellow?

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greenacresgirl

Short day is better for Florida. Long day is for the north. The different colors each come in long and short day varieties. I have been very successful with a white onion called superstar which is actually categorized as day neutral.

Michelle

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 8:48PM
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athagan(z9a N/C Fl)

It's a little late to do onions in Florida now. They're a cool season crop.

But the ones you want are the granex type, sometimes called Vidalias though that name is trademarked to a specific region of Georgia. They are a short day onion and from what I've seen can be yellow or red, maybe even some whites in there too. The ones that are easiest to find are the yellow ones.

Mine will be getting ready to dry down in a another couple of weeks. Not sure how well they're going to keep this year though as those three hard freezes we had did a number on them.

Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VH021

.....Alan.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 11:01AM
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ana_garden(9b)

I am still lost with onions!
I thought I should plant seeds in the fall and sets in January. Is that correct?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 9:04PM
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tclynx

I've planted many onion sets I got down here and rarely have I gotten any large onions from them. We usually give up and harvest lots of green onions. Last year they never really dried down so we didn't know when we should be harvesting them. Many rotted in the ground when it got too hot.

Short day onions are definitely supposed to be what to grow here but even then, I've not been very successful at getting anything that will store well.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 9:44PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Since I'm in Zone 10 I'll share my observations with you. Short day onions have worked best, yellow or white Granex. Sets are available from the Big Box stores as early as November. If planted in direct sun you'll have baseball size onions at 105-120 days, if in partial shade they'll be that size at 135-150 days.

Tom

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 8:16PM
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ana_garden(9b)

I am lost even more now!
I read that sets should be planted in Jan. In our area zone 9 they don't sell sets before Feb-March! I planted some sets as soon as I bought them, but there is no way they will make a bulb.
I bought seeds of yellow Granex and will try to plant them in October as UF website says.

Ana Russa

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 9:33PM
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athagan(z9a N/C Fl)

From the Florida Vegetable Planting Guide I linked above:

Onions, Bulbing - Planting Dates - North Florida Sept-Dec, Central Florida Sept-Dec, South Florida Sept-Nov.

I've never tried onion from seed down here so I can't speak to that. Sets I like to put out after the weather breaks in the fall. Plants I'd probably wait until early to mid November, but far enough before frost (if you get it in your area) that they can be well established before the first one. I've had better luck with sets over plants myself because I can usually find and plant the sets before the plants are available.

I just dug all of my onions weekend before last. The three hard freezes we had over the winter hurt me, but I was still able to achieve a respectable harvest if not as good as those I've had in the past. Maybe a quarter bushel of bulbs baseball sized or larger, the rest smaller. I had too many sets and plants for the space available when I planted so over crowded them a little which hurt me as well. Next time I'll toss out the extras and keep the proper spacing.

Short day granex are what is wanted. You can find them in either yellow or white and I believe purple now as well. They want full-sun, even consistent moisture and regular fertilizing as they are heavy feeders.

You might could get a respectable crop with plants if you planted in early February in an area not prone to hard freezes, but that's kind of late in my experience. By March it is definitely too late unless you just want scallions.

Granex are not good keeping onions. Of the good quality undamaged bulbs I put into storage I expect to lose about a third of them over the summer. I have had them keep as long as the following December though. For real long-term storage I'd chop and freeze or dry them.

.....Alan.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 9:07AM
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ana_garden(9b)

Thanks!
I wonder where you buy short-day onion sets in November? Could you please give a website you use?

Ana Russa

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 9:11PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Lots of folks order from here but it will cost you three times as much as if you just wait until HD gets them in.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 6:14AM
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rowdy13(9a Valrico)

HD and WM are both currently selling in the Tampa area Sweet Georgia Onions (short day) for approx. $3 for a bundle of 60.

Does that mean they expect you to plant them now? Or, can they be stored until fall?

Or, is this another example of the peonies. By definition. I would think that nowhere would be planting short day onions at this point.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 12:05PM
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athagan(z9a N/C Fl)

For scallions you might could get away with planting onions now, but it's much too late for bulb onions.

I haven't ever mail ordered onion plants or sets, but wait for them to show up locally. A lot of folks do order from Dixondale Farms as tomcath suggests and they seem to be happy with them. The thing to look for is "granex" though some might call theirs "Vidalias" but that's a protected trademark.

.....Alan.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 12:20PM
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ana_garden(9b)

Thanks for Dixondale Farms link. I saved it.
I saw onion sets in Lowes today. If I buy them now, will I be able to store them in a fridge till November? They don't look strong to me....

Ana Russa

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:44PM
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rwms(9)

Some places still have old fashioned farm and garden centers that get plants at the right time of the year for Florida. For example, where I live (Winter Haven in Polk County) we have Doty's Farm and Garden Supply that has been around for over 50 years. They get there seeds in the late summer / early fall and do not remove them through the fall to make room for Christmas decorations. They get vidalia style (grainex or texas grano, I think) onion sets in the early fall. They are $6.95 for a bunch of 75 to 100 sets (I think there were over a hundred in the bunch I purchased, including the tiny ones that were too small to mess with). They also have bulk seed for several types short day onins (grainex and Texas grano) for a few dollars per tablespoon (I think I got a 1/4 tablespoon for $1.25 which turned out to be 400 seeds).

So, I don't know how it is in other places, but if you see a farm and garden supply store, stop in and check it out.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 8:59PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

I saw onion sets in Lowes today. If I buy them now, will I be able to store them in a fridge till November? They don't look strong to me....

No, its too late now, I don't start them later than mid-January, and as small as they are I doubt they'd keep in the frig for 6-7 months.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 12:13PM
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happy_girl(Z9 st. cloud)

A few years ago, I was in a nursery/garden center in N. Fla. where there was sweet onion sets for sale. This was in the spring. I commented to the gentleman owner that it was the wrong time of the year to put out this type onion. His reply was, "I just sell them, I don't educate people". Needless to say, I departed his place of business quickly.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 3:18PM
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ana_garden(9b)

In my area, only Lucas nursery has big selection and they don't sell onion sets in fall. They start selling them in the end of Feb. Did anybody try to plant little red onion bulbs that are sold in Walmart or Publix as food items? I did. It gave my lots of green onions but I am not sure if I can expect bulbs from them.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 3:39PM
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mistiaggie(z9A Tx)

I put some sets in a container that I ripped tomatoes out of back in early March and I just pulled out a few tonight to eat. I'm in 10B, Broward county.

Not huge, but enough for me. I think some are a bit bigger than that.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 8:42PM
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jonnys(9 Orlando Fl)

Being my first time growing onions, I purchased a bundle from a local big box store. Most were very ratty looking though I tried to get the best one. I then planted as many as I could fit in my small garden. I just checked my garden log and that was back at the end of Feb. I hope to get some sort of a bulb, I guess I might pull one to check. Only my first time growing the, though they do seem to be coming along.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 11:19PM
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newjmoon_aol_com

Rats on these big box stores tricking us into thinking its the right time of year for planting onions! I bought a bundle the first of March and they are looking really good... but reading all these posts- I'm getting depressed they won't be big sweet onions ...and instead will rot in the ground before they are done. Oh well, I learn something new with each plant I try.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 8:42PM
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bahamaincrab_yahoo_com

just brouth some seeds 5/16/11 and reading these post your tell me that i must not plant them until fall am i rigth with that?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 5:17PM
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