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Storage Onion Grex - and storage generally

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  • Storage Onion Grex - and storage generally

    I got seeds of this grex from Experimental Farm Network in US. I was very pleased with the results. From 20 modules with a couple of seeds in each, came these lovely big, mostly red onions. If they store as well as they were selected to do, then I’ll be doubly pleased.

    I’m wondering though whether I lifted them rather early for best storage - and that probably applies to my other onions too. We were having a lot of damp weather and the tops were looking a bit mildewed so I thought they might well dry off better under cover. But perhaps they need to dry with their roots still in the ground to form more dry outer skins. If so, lesson learned but perhaps, given the damp weather, optimum finishing conditions just weren’t available this season.

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  • #2
    Nice selection of onions, are these for eating or seed production next year?

    I harvested my onions a bit green this year as I wanted their growing space. As they were from sets I went through them carefully peeling back a layer of skin looking for signs of disease, I found a few which I discarded. Any split skins I took off to leave a complete wrap, although with some this wasn't practical and I've been using these up first. To dry I've left them on the greenhouse staging with the leaves and roots on to gently die back and will likely string them once the leaves have fully died back and then bring them in the house. For storing the usual thing, any split or thick neck bulbs etc will be used first.

    I think harvesting a bit early you may lose a layer or two but that's better than mildew running wild. I'm not sure if it's true but I think leaving the roots on when drying may help for longer storing, something along the lines of onions absorption of chemicals the drying roots give off tells the bulb to remain firm.

    Interesting topic and one I feel a bit out of touch with as this is my first year growing onions after a break of several. I think local growing conditions will influence the best method. I don't think they need to dry with their roots in the ground, I used to find if left too long something would end up having a nibble and damaging the skin, or the repeated wet of the soil would wear the skin thin.


    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, I think I lifted these because I thought they might be prey to fungal or small critter damage.

      I dried them in a sunny conservative-type room with their roots intact, and just dressed them and took off the roots a couple of days ago once they had pretty well finished drying.

      Temperature for drying is interesting. I have other onions drying in my polytunnel. I have read though that garlic shouldn't be dried too hot as it will impair the flavour and inspired by the idea of producing some seed, I've just read Suzanne Ashworth who says 'Avoid drying the bulbs in the sun where the temperatures exceed 75F/24C or the bulbs will sunburn and spoil in storage'. Ive usually dried in the Polytunnel and not been aware of any problem so not sure what to think.

  • #3
    Attractive and varied population there, hope they taste as good as they look! Will you be making further selections?


    • #4
      Hope they get through winter ok for replanting and harvesting your own seeds. That pink flat one not quite top left in the first basket is a beauty. Very exciting.


      • #5
        Thank you all three for the interesting and positive responses.

        I would like to try growing on for seed. There are just two pinkish ones, each of a different shape, and one of which Galina singled out. I'd love to taste them but they seem to be candidates for growing on. Otherwise the best and biggest reds I think.

        Has anyone successfully produced seed from common biennial onions? Any tips?


        • Galina
          Galina commented
          Editing a comment
          Choose at least a dozen, then let them do their own thing and make sure no other onions are grown nearby. With a grex I think that last one is not an issue. They get replanted unless you are sure they are hardy then they can be replanted in autumn. Next year they will send up a flower stalk that flowers in spring and eventually they will produce seeds. They need the best part of the second year to produce ripe seeds. The process can be a bit messy and some pods open earlier and shed seeds, than others. But you can cut when they start and let them dry off indoors on a layer of cardboard not to lose the seeds. Very similar to leek seed saving if you have done that. The nice thing with onions is that while the main bulb is spent, but quite often a second bulb, usually smaller, is likely to develop. No guarantees, but I have seen that on onions. If fully dried and mature you rub the seeds out with your hands or put the lot in a bag and go over it with a rolling pin which also releases the seeds. If seeds are still green that would crush and damage them. So maybe best used to get the last seeds out after hand rubbing.
          Last edited by Galina; 21-08-2021, 06:55.

        • Jang
          Jang commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks. Yes, I have let leeks carry on to develop seed, and they seem to take for ever to mature and dry. Into perhaps October from what I remember.

          I was wondering about minimum number so good to have that info. And interesting about the secondary bulb. That would indeed be a bonus.