Onions are among the most common vegetables around the world. They belong to the genus Allium, which includes garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, onions, and spring onions. The scientific names of these plants are Allium cepa, A. sat ovum, A. Schoen opossum, A. tuber sum, and A. fistula sum. These plants are cultivated worldwide because they grow easily, produce large amounts of food, and are easy to store.
Around 65% of the world’s onions come from eight leading producers. These include Pakistan, Egypt, Russia (the largest producer), India, Iran, the United States, China, and Canada.
Today, onions rank third among vegetables in the U.S., behind tomatoes and potatoes. In India, they’re the second most popular food item, following rice. Production-wise, India leads the world. Among the major producers are Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana in India; and Ontario, California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland in the U.S.
Economic Importance of Onion
Onion is the most important commercial crop both domestically and internationally. It is consumed both raw and cooked.
Apart from domestic consumer use, the food processing sector is a major user of onion. It is used mainly for preparing sauces, ketchup, purees, pickled vegetables, etc., and is also an essential ingredient for producing ready-made products.
Onions are grown worldwide and exported to several countries. You can potentially earn revenue by exporting onions. Some of the major importers include the United States, the UK, Malaysia, German, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Canada.
Health Benefits of Onion
- Onions contain vitamins B and C and minerals calcium and iron.
- It has medicinal properties and is sometimes prescribed for earaches, colic pain, and so on.
- Onions also help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Onions contain compounds called flavonoids which lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots, thereby protecting your heart from damage.
- Onions scavenge harmful free radical molecules, which reduces your chance of developing stomach ulcers.
- Chewing raw onions improves our oral hygiene by eliminating bacteria that can cause cavities and gingivitis.
Things to Consider in Commercial Onion Farming
- To be successful at growing onions commercially, you need an adequate area of land.
- Also, select the best variety according to the ecological conditions of your region.
- Before starting the plantation, craft a business strategy.
- To be successful at digital advertising, you need to identify your target audience. You must have both an economic and marketing strategy.
- Arranging the necessary supplies for growing plants takes time and effort.
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Best Varieties for Onion Farming
There are basically three different kinds of onions: red, yellow, and white.
a) Red Coloured Varieties:
Kharif: Light red, Dark red, Balwant – 778, Niphad – 52.
Rabindra Nath Tagore: Niphad – 2411, Niphad 2072 – 1, Pusaha
b) White Coloured Varieties:
Niphad -5- 7-1, Niphad -123-7-1, Phule said.
c) Salad Variety:
Early Granola (yellow salad onion)
You can also try Bellary Red, NP 53, Pusa Red, Arka Niketana, Arka Kalyani, Arka Lalima (Arka), Arka Kirthi Man, Arka Pitambe, Arka Kalya, Arka Kalyaan, Arka Lalimaa, Arka Kirthi Maan, Arka Pitambar, Arka
Ideal Location Agro Climatic Condition for Onion Farming
Generally, you can plant onions in various kinds of climates. However, it does not prefer mild weather. Also, extreme temperatures, hot and cold, are not suitable for growing onions. Onions do well in an ideal average daily high and low temperatures of 14°C to 15°C and 8°C to 12°C respectively. They also require 70 percent relative air moisture during the growth period.
Rainfall requirements vary from 750 to 1000mm per annum and require bright sunshine for the bulb’s development period, so grows well in the Rabi season.
Ideal Soil Condition for Onion Farming
Basically, you can plant onions in any kind of soil. They do best in fertile, moist, well-draining soil, but they also tolerate dry conditions fairly well.
They require good air circulation around them; if your plants get too hot, they’ll bolt (flower prematurely). Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy. Fertilize regularly, especially during the growing season.
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Onion Farming Basic Steps
You can grow onions in your own vegetable garden. In order to do so, you should prepare a plot of land about 1 meter wide and 2 meters deep. Afterward, you can plant the seedlings in the prepared area. For each seedling, you should place one seed every 0.5 cm.
Cover the seedlings with a thin film of soil. At the same time, keep sprinkling water on them until they sprout roots. Later on, you should irrigate the plants regularly. When they reach the size of 20 centimeters, you can transplant them into bigger pots.
You can plant onions from spring through fall. If you’re planting onions from spring through summer, you can either use the flatbed technique or transplant them directly into the ground.
You should apply 25 to 30 cartloads (about 1 ton) of well-rotted FYM or compost per hectare when preparing the soil for planting onions.
For onions, you should apply 50 kilograms of nitrogen, 25 kilograms of phosphorus, and 25 kilograms of potassium as a normal practice.
The water requirement of crops at the initial stages of development is lesser. However, one should stop watering 15-20 days prior to reaching maturation for improving the storage qualities of the crop.
Frequent watering during the Kharif season delays flowering. During rabi, 10-12 irrigations are sufficient at bulb formation, whereas frequent watering results in lower yields.
To grow onions successfully, you need to maintain an orderly garden so that weeds don’t take hold. When they’re small, you can pull them out easily; when they get larger, you need to use herbicides. Two to three times per year is usually sufficient.
Harvesting & Yield
Harvesting onions at the right stage of maturation is an essential part of determining how long they will store. Onions should be harvested when the plant stops producing new leaves and root growth.
When the necks begin to drop off, the bulb is mature enough to harvest. The timing of harvesting also varies depending on the variety, location, and demand.
During Rabi (winter) seasons, the yields of onions are usually high. But during Kharif (summer) seasons, they are lower. Expecting 150 to 250 quarts per ha.
After harvesting, keep them in an open area for three to four days under the sun for the initial curing process. Then sort out the damaged, rotted, and diseased ones. Finally, place these in a cool, dry location where they can remain undisturbed until planting season.
Keep the containers separate so that you do not end up with a bunch of plants mixed together.
During the process of storing onions, check them every week and take out those that are starting to rot. But if you do not know how to properly handle your onions, they may lose around 15 to 17 percent of their weight during the process of storing them.
For small-sized farms, you should keep your onions in a cool place (10° C) for seven months. For larger farms, you should keep them in a colder place (5° C).
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