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Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

Posted by jimster z7a MA (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 29, 07 at 15:45

At approximately what date do onions from plants, not sets, start bulbing up at 42° N latitude?

Jim


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

long ago!

i'm at 41.75 N latitude. the longest days trigger bulb formation up here. the day length varies by only 10 minutes plus or minus from the summer solstice day length of 15:09 (hours:minutes) from around june 5 to july 10. without checking charts this is very close but i may be off a day or two.

my onions are almost done, i suspect based upon past years that they'll start to change from green to pale green then start to fall over in another 7-10 days. i got mine in real late this year, started seeds on 3/1 put out on may 5 iirc. you need to start seeds about 2/22 to 3/1 and get them out asap, i aim for the 3rd or 4th weekend in april. it is important the plants grow as much as possible so that around 6/10 to 6/15 the long day light triggers the bulb to start forming. i was concerned because mine were a bit late bulbing but again i was a full week to 2 weeks late getting them planted. if you don't see any bulbs by now i think you're in trouble.

did you plant short day onions by mistake? they do not bulb properly up here just as day long don't down south. day neutral work at any lattitude. what variety did you buy as plants? you may gotten mislabelled plants that were shipped here when they should have stayed down south.

tom


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

I got an even later start than Tom, don't think they got in the ground until 2nd week in May maybe...they sat in my fridge for almost a couple weeks. I'm growing Ailsa Craig & Red Bull from Dixondale Farms. The Ailsa Craig most are about 4" dia now but still some runts. The Red Bull, planted about the same time, are smaller, maybe 3" max. None of mine are really showing any signs of falling over yet and appear to be still growing... I think I'm around 42.7 degrees if I remember corectly.


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

mark,

per weatherunderground you are at Lat/Lon: 42.9° N 78.9° W

why do you buy plants vs starting from seeds? knowing all the vegetables you grow, i'm surprised you don't start them from seed. a package of seeds is about $3 and there's hundreds of seeds (some varieties several hundred) in it. plants have to cost a lot more. onion seeds are good for just 1 year, i have gotten germination in the 2nd year but it does drop off so i just buy new seed each year.

i stopped growing ace because i was getting not so good germination from fresh just bought seeds. in addition to that too many had double bulbs, 1 small 1 medium size per plant and those don't store well so i had to use those 1st. also i found some sprouted in storage or got soft.

after a few seasons of this i decided to try candy. this was based upon yopper's comments and results. he says candy is sweeter, sizes even larger (like 8"!) and stores longer. my candy are about 4-5" now so i don't expect any 8" bulbs but i also plant ace and candy 6" on center where i think yopper planted his 8 or even 10" on center. must that good soil in the up!

tom


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

I didn't have any room & time this year to start onion seeds and was too busy here late January-February so I ordered plants. I did start ACE, Borettana Cippolini (sp?), Super Star & WW a coupla years ago and grew them about 6 to 9 in a 4 gallon bucket with great success, and some in a zigzagged row about 5-6ft long along the border of my corn bed on the blacktop driveway.

You know me, I have to maximize my output per space I have... I plant them around 5-6" apart in every direction, maybe 3 zigs wide in just over a foot width. I even have a half 55 gallon drum with 22 plants, and a double row down the middle of 'Mater Mountain on the driveway...

I think I've only had 1 or 2 doubles in the last few years. This year, I actually have a plant that looks like it divided and is making 2 bulbs with their own tops... don't know if siamesed or truly 2 bulbs.

As for Jim's question, I think they may have started showing a noticable change around maybe 4th of July... I remember ACE was getting bigger and I was wondering what's up with Red Bull--it had a beautiful stalk of herringbone overlapping leaves but didn't look like it was bulbing when ACE looked bigger below the neck, both being planted the same day.

Mark


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

I think my onions are starting to bulb up, but slowly. One small plant has a perfectly round bulb, but the rest only show a little thickening. I suspected this is late and that is what you have confirmed.

These onions were put in very late (June) as an afterthought. I saw the plants in little trays at the supermarket. There were two unnamed varieties. One was labeled Spanish onion and I chose those. I have been pleasantly surprised at how they grew. I didn't have high hopes for getting the tops large prior to bulbing up, but they caught up with the ones my friends put in as sets. They have about 8 leaves and are large. Looks like I might have lucked out for once. But I don't know how large an onion I can get from 8 leaves (see my other thread on that).

Jim


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

i looked at my candy yesterday and they looked bigger than last weekend, i swear they do, but as i just commented in peggy's "wes" thread, my memory is not to be trusted!

plants are amazingly adaptive. now planting onions in late june should be the kiss of death. from what i have read, they have to grow as many leaves as possible so that when those longest days start the plant then switches it's energy into growing the bulb and those leaves help feed the plant. you may luck out tho, your onions may not achieve their full potential had you put the plants out say 4/22 but who knows? keep us posted i am curious how they do.

when the leaves start to lose their dark or bright green color and start to look paler then some of the stalks will start to fall over. when 20-30% of the plants are doing this, gently push at the base of the neck on all the plants and push the leaves to the ground or near the ground. this will further send energy into the bulb. at this point you should google how to harvest them (when to pull how to cure in the garden then out of the sun).

tom


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

"...planting onions in late june..."

That's not exactly what I said. I planted them late, and it was in June. I don't remember what day in June. It may have been mid-June. Still, I had no right to think they would do well and I am surprised the tops got so large and have as many leaves as they do. Now for some bulbs.

Jim


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

Is everybody watering or now withholding watering?

Also, I just recently read somewhere NOT to push/bend/knock over the necks... said that the leaves' energy or feeding the bulb cannot be completed--it cuts off flow back to the bulb...


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

i am watering, did so last night.

noticed 3-4 candy out of 64 have tops dropping. a few copra out of 144 are also dropping. no redwings yet.

i water until 20% drop at which time i push them over. IF rain is going to happen and i learned this THE HARD WAY - PULL THEM. if they take up water at that point (after necks bent) then they have a higher tendency to get soft while curing or sprout early or go bad in storage. ACE was the worst onion for this and that is why i stopped growing it this year trying candy instead.

never read that mark. i'm going to stick with what has worked for me for several seasons.

tom


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

Maybe I shouldn't have turned the drip off to them. I turned it off a week or two ago.

Here's from the article on bending the necks:

"How will you know when onion bulbs as large as they are going to be? The onion is one of the few vegetables that signal you when it's ready to be harvested. An onion bulb is mature when the top bends at its narrow neck and falls over. When the bulb reaches this stage, it will not enlarge any further and may as well be harvested. Until the tops fall over in mid-to-late June [edit: talking about Texas], plants should be fertilized with ammonium sulfate (1/2 cup for each 10 feet of row) every month.

Some folks want to rush the process. They always ask, "Should I break over the tops of my onion plants to get a larger bulb?" Breaking over the tops of onion plants will not increase bulb size but can prevent bulb enlargement. Onion bulbs increase in size as sugars manufactured in the top are translocated to the bulb. If the tops are broken, this process stops, preventing further bulb enlargement.

Once you produce a large onion, for goodness sakes, DON'T let the bulbs rot. In most cases, onions decay in storage because of neck rot, which is caused by a soil-borne fungus. When harvesting onions, wait until the tops begin to dry and fall over. Once this happens, lift the plants and allow them to dry. After drying, clip the tops and dry the cut area for 1 to 2 days. By doing this, the cut tissue will dry, eliminating a possible site for infection. Then, place the onions in a well-ventilated area and in a container that allows free movement of air around the onions. If the onions are to be stored, a good fungicide program using chlorothalonil (Daconil, Multipurpose Fungicide or Fertilome Broad Spectrum Fungicide) or maneb every 7 to 10 days during the growing season is important to prevent diseases, such as tip blight and purple blotch, from entering the bulbs."

The above was from Texas A&M's PlantAnswers site.

Jim, I counted my leaves and most had 12-14.

Mark


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

"Jim, I counted my leaves and most had 12-14."

Oh, oh. Mine have mostly 8. Oh well, as I said before, I had no right to expect big onions from such a late planting. I'm lucky they are as big as they are.

Thanks for counting, Mark.

Jim


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It worked!

If you ever get tired of waiting for some crop to develop (germinate, blossom, produce fruit, etc.) just post it as question on GW. It never fails. Soon as you post and get a couple of replies suggesting you be patient, whatever you're waiting for will happen. I've replied to numerous of those posts on the Vegetable Growing forum and it has worked time and time again.

This time it was my post on bulbing of onions. When I started this thread on 7/29, my onions were straight. In the past few days they've started rounding out nicely. Now to see how large they will be. Not large I expect, but usable.

Jim


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

HEY Tom Glad to hear your candy are doing good for you!!!! I pulled all of mine last week and they are in the shed drying.I got them in early and I had some woppers in spite of very little rain. YOPPER


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RE: Bulbing at 42° N Latitude

hi yopper,

yep i tried candy based upon your photos and comments.

i have eaten only 1 or 2 possibly but i think just 1. they are very sweet, only 1 of the harvest was soft and had to be tossed out, none rotted in the growing season, only 1 looks like a possible double onion but i think it is just how it grew because it is definately not the typical doubles i always got with ACE.

they were pulled 8/19 and i left them out until wednesday when i picked up all 3 varietes and put them on racks in the shed to finsh off. after 10 days in the heat and sun most tops have dried and look like they've been in the shed for 4 weeks, hardly any greens! normally i leave them out just 3-5 days this year i left them out longer.

all the candy look good and it appears to be a better onion than ACE, taste is as sweet or sweeter. no loss to speak of, same size as ACE, planted 6" on center like ACE, a few small ones about 3-4" but most are as large as ACE about 5-6". this size is fine i really don't want 8" onions other than to wow people! but for eating, a 3-4" is fine so the 5-6" are a bit large. i planted 64 harvested all but maybe 1 or 2 and as mentioned tossed 1. this is much better than ACE. main problem was ACE grew about 15% doubles and those 15% were a bit soft and never stored well, i always had to eat those 1st.

good to hear your crop was good. onions are so easy to grow and store so well, i think i have the 3 best varieties now that i have candy along with red wing (not red inside like mars but does 10 times better, mars always had problems) and copra.

tom


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