You may have probably just planted your onions and now wondering in anticipation how you can harvest your onions during the harvest season. Well, this shouldn’t be a bother to you as we have detailed all you need to know on how to harvest onions and store them in the best of conditions.
You can’t go into harvesting your onions without knowing when they are due for the harvest, so we would take a look at that first before going into the main details of this article.
How Do You Know When Your Onions are Ready to be Harvested?
Harvesting the bulbs from your onion farming is quite easy because the onion bulbs give out the details themselves. If you planted the onions in summer then by midsummer they should be about ready to be harvested.
In this season, the bulb of the onions becomes fatter than usual then by late summer or even towards the fall, you would observe that the onion leaves have brown tips and starts dropping off to show that there is no more growth in the plant.
Now, is the best time to harvest and store your onions. Even if you don’t do that, don’t expect any other possible growth because after that the onion bulbs may start dying off or rotting under the soil.
Since we’ve understood when to correctly harvest onions, let us highlight how the process of harvesting onions is done.
How to Harvest Onions
Having identified that your onions are ready for the harvest, you now have to start the harvesting and curing processes.
You can simply pull out the bulb from the soil with your hand or instead, you can make use of common farm tools like a garden fork to dig it up from the soil, then lay them out on the garden floor or garage to dry out for at least a week. This would be best if the weather is dry but if not (since it’s already early fall) you can spread them out on a wire rack in a greenhouse.
If you have noticed, the outer covering of the onion just before they are stored is very dry and this is because they were cured. Curing your onions means drying the outer onion layer till they have withered on the bulbs and have wiry roots.
To do this, you spread the onions out in a greenhouse or cold frame in layers carefully to prevent them from bruising or bumping out. A temperature of 32 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity between 65 – 70% is ideal for curing onions.
Be sure that the onions are properly spaced, aerated, and away from moisture during this process. A period of two weeks is enough to dry out and make the onion skins papery. The necks also tighten up around the neck and shrivel up completely. Trimming the roots, loose skins, and leaves when there is zero moisture content is advisable.
How to Store Onions
Onions are best stored in a spacious room, greenhouse bench, or garage. The papery skin of the onions is the most favorable storage wrapper for onions. This is because the onions naturally shield themselves better if they are stored properly. A lot of varieties of globe onions would last throughout the year if they are kept well.
Indoors, the onions can be kept in mesh or net bags, bushel baskets, orchard racks, or wire racks.
For small-scale onion storage, you can use similar nets or sacks used for holding oranges in a store. These onions should be checked regularly for molds, soft bulbs, or thick-necked onions. If you intend to store onions as strings just as in onion strings, you can cut up the bulbs to 2 – 3 inches from the neck to the stem.
Orchard racks with wooden drawers can be used for storing onions. This take can be kept away in a cool dry shed and not in a heated room. Though heat can be ideal for onion storage, too much of it may be harmful.
Where the orchard racks are not available, the practical way of storing onions is by using braided onion strings. This is easier to use since you would simply be hanging the onion bulbs on twisted and looped strings while snuggling another onion over the previous one. You can hang the string in a well-ventilated area to dry out.
The methods listed above for storing onions work well for other culinary in the allium family such as garlic and shallots.
Now we have exhausted some of the common methods used in storing onions, we should also get to know how long you can keep the bulbs in store.
How Long Should I Store my Onions?
The duration for keeping onions varies between the different kinds of onion bulbs. Bulbous pungent onions can last up to a year if stored in good conditions. Though mild onions with large and juicy rings can be perceived as the best for storage, they are quite the opposite. You should use them up as soon as possible.
Having gone through the different methods used for harvesting, curing, and storing onions, it is safe to assume that you would be kicking asses during fall with your onion business and household production.
Before signing off, let me know which of these methods you’d be using next to harvest and store your onions.
For harvesting, would you be picking them up with your hands or would a garden fork do better?
In the case of storage, do you have a spacious greenhouse or garage where you can lay out your onion bulbs? Would you make use of the orchard racks, braided strings, or bushel baskets for storage?
Let me know in the comments section below