A beginner’s guide to becoming a successful onion farmer
Onion farming requires a significant investment of time and resources. Onions are used in a vast array of savoury meals, which means that there is a demand for this type of crop. With the right knowledge and skills, your investment will pay off. The upside to onion farming is that it’s relatively clear-cut when compared to other types of crops. Before you get started, you’ll need equipment you can rely on. Find durable equipment for sale on AgriMag and enjoy great savings.
Types of onions
Selecting the right type of onion for your region is crucial to your success. The amount of sunlight the onions are exposed to on a daily basis has to be correct before the bulb starts to form. The temperature also has an impact on bulb formation. The Western and Eastern Cape has more daylight hours than South Africa’s northern regions during the summer months. This region is typically suited for intermediate-day cultivators while short-day cultivators are better suited to the northern regions. Each cultivator differs in the amount of time that it takes to mature. Short-day cultivators include the Texas Grano, Hanna, and San. The good news is that onions are typically pest and disease resistance.
Onions should be planted in soil that has good drainage. Both heavy and clay soils are not suitable for onion farming. You can add compost to these types of soils to increase their suitability to this type of crop. Organic fertiliser should be added to the soil before planting. Tilling and raking is also an important part of soil preparation. Remove stones and clumps of soil and avoid planting onions in soil where other alliums have been cultivated in the previous three years.
The best period for sowing depends on your region. If you’re farming in a warmer, short-day region, sowing can take place at the end of February and in March. In colder short-day locations, wait until April to sow the seeds. You’ll get better results by using late-maturing cultivators as they take longer to grow. Intermediate cultivators are planted later in the year in southern areas of the country. These cultivators are ready to harvest in December or January. They can be stored and sold for the best price.
Onions require regular watering. They need more water straight after sowing than they do later on. Add fertiliser monthly. Make sure that the beds are free from weeds to ensure that there is no competition for resources.
After sowing, you’ll need to wait four to seven months before your crop is ready for harvest. If an onion is left in the ground when it’s ready for harvesting, decay can set in. Delayed harvesting can also result in the onion bulb splitting in bad weather. However, the right time to harvest is dependent on the cultivator. Delaying harvesting these types of cultivators for longer results in bigger bulbs and a higher yield.
While onions look tough, they need to be harvested carefully to avoid damage. They have to be lifted out of the ground, which puts them at risk for bruising. Once you’ve removed them from the soil, place them in the sun to dry out. If the temperatures are high, place straw over them to protect them from damage. Once they’re dry, they should be stored in a cool and dry area where with sufficient air movement.
Now that you know more about onion farming, you can decide if this is the right crop for your agricultural business. Find robust equipment for sale on AgriMag and get your onion farm off to a good start.