How to Start Commercial Onion Farming – Package of Practices

Introduction to Onion Farming – Package of Practices:

Vegetables are important as an essential component of the human diet and nutrients. Among all other vegetables, onion (Allium cepa L.) is considered as “queen of kitchen” is one of the oldest known and an important vegetable crop. Onion, the principal Allium, ranks second in value after tomatoes on the list of cultivated vegetable crops worldwide and also in India. It is grown in almost all parts of India. Onion is a monocot plant belongs to the family Alliaceae. Common name or Vernacular name of Onion is Pyas. Indian onions are famous for their pungency. Indian onions have two crop cycles grown, first harvesting starts in November to January and the second harvesting from January to Maybe followed.

In this post, we will let you know about Onion farming, Onion Package of Practices, Onion farming, What is the local name of onion, how Onion is cultivated, onion cultivation process, onion cultivation in india, types of onion, onion varieties list in india, onion family, onion scientific name, how long does it take to grow an onion, better month to plant onions, how long do onions take to grow, how many onions do you get per acre, onion cultivation method, onion diseases, onion diseases downy mildew, onion insect pest and disease management, insect pest of onion and other queries related to Onion farming and Onion cultivation process.

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Economic importance of onion:

            Onion is an important ingredient in every kitchen as a spice and condiment. Onion bulbs are grilled, fried, toasted and stuffed. It is also used in the preparation of soups. The green leaves are also used for cookery purposes.

Climate requirement for Onion farming:

            Onion is a temperate crop but in India, it is grown under a wide range of climatic conditions such as temperate, tropical, and subtropical climate.  In India, short-day onion is grown in the plains and requires day length of 10-12 hours. The long-day onion is grown in hills requires day length of 13-14 hours. The optimum temperature for vegetative phase is 13-24 ˚C and bulb development is 16-25˚C. It requires about 70% relative humidity for good growth and development.

Soil conditions for onion cultivation:

            Onion can be grown in all types of soils like sandy loam, clay loam, silt loam, and heavy soils. The optimum pH range for onion cultivation is 6.0-7.5. The threshold electrical conductivity of a saturation extract for onion crop is 4.0 d S/m.

Nursery raising steps to start Onion cultivation:

            Proper nursery management and transplanting of seedlings are important operations in the onion crop. It requires 0.05 hectares nursery bed area is enough for getting seedlings to transplant in one hectare. The field is ploughed 5-6 times to break clods and well pulverization to hold water. An application of half-ton of well-decomposed farmyard manure (FYM) at the time of the last ploughing in 0.05 ha and mix well with soil. For raising nursery, raised bed of 10-15 cm height, 1.0-1.2 m width and length as per convenience is prepared.

Seed rate of Onion:

Usually, medium-sized bulbs are chosen for sowing. Seed rate is about eight to ten kg/ha. Seeds are sown in a well-prepared nursery. Seedlings of 15 cm height and 0.8 cm diameter are ideal for transplanting.

List of Onion hybrid varieties:

            Arka Lalima, Arka Kirthiman, Arka Kalyan.

Onion local varieties list:

Red Onion local varities list: Bhima Super, Bhima Red, Bhima Raj, Bhima Dark Red, Bhima Shakti, Punjab Selection, Pusa Red, N2-4-1, Pusa Madhavi, Arka Kalyan, Arka Lalima, Punjab selection.

 White Onion local varities list: Bhima Shubra, Bhima Shweta, Bhima Safed, Pusa White Round, Arka Yojith, Pusa White Flat, Udaipur 102, Phule Safed, N25791, Agrifound White.

Preparation of the main field for Onion cultivation:

            Preparation of the land by 2 to 3 times ploughing with moldboard plough to pulverize the soil and make it free from clods, and also for the breakdown of organic matter present in the soil.

Spacing requirement for Onion farming:

            The seedlings are transplanted at a spacing of 45 x 10 cm. The onion seedlings are transplanted after dipping roots in carbendazim solution (0.1%) for two hours to reduce the incidence of fungal diseases during its establishment.

Fertilizer application/ Fertilizer dosage in Onion farming:

            An application of FYM 25 t/ha or compost, Azospirillum 2 kg and Phosphobacteria 2 kg/ha, N 30 kg, P 60 kg and K 30 kg/ha as basal and 30 kg N/ha on 30 days of sowing is recommended. Application of 25 kg of sulfur per hectare is recommended to increase the yield and pungency of onion.


Intercultural operations in Onion farming:

            Application of Oxyflurofen @ 23.5% EC (1.5 -2.0 ml/L)/ Pendimethalin @ 30% EC (3.5-4ml/L) before transplanting or at the time of transplanting following one hand weeding at 40-60 days after transplanting is recommended for weed control in an onion field.

Water management practices in Onion farming:

            Irrigation requirement of onion depends upon the season, soil type, and method of irrigation of the crop. The onion needs irrigation at the time of transplanting, three days after transplanting and at   7-10 days interval depending upon the soil moisture. 

Insect pests of Onion, their symptoms and different management practices:

Insect pests of Onion

Onion thrips: Thrips tabaci (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) 

Symptoms of Onion thrips: Adults as well as by the nymphs lacerate the leaf tissue and feed. They usually congregate at leaf base or in the flower.  Leaves of plants turn silvery-white, curl, wrinkle and gradually dry from the tip. Leaf discolouration is the major symptom.

Chemical management: Installation of sky blue colour sticky traps 25/ha. Spraying of 625 ml of malathion 50 EC or methyl demeton 25 EC or dimethoate 30 EC or monocrotophos  36 SL 500 ml-750 ml in 500-750 L of water per ha immediately as pests appears.

Non-chemical management/ Natural control/ Organic control: Spraying with the Entrust formulation of spinosad, azadirachtin, and entomopathogenic fungi such as Beauveria bassiana are also advisable. Some organic mulches are recommended for the control of this pest.

Onion Maggot: Delia antiqua (Anthomyiidae: Diptera) 

Symptoms: The maggots bore into the bulbs, leading the plants to become flabby and yellowish. It also causes withering in the field and rotting in storage conditions.

Chemical Management: Growing of Allium fistulosum because it is more tolerant than A. cepa. Spraying of methyl demeton 25 EC or dimethoate 30 EC 1.0 L in 500 – 750 L of water per ha is also advisable.

Non-chemical management/ Natural control/ Organic control: Sprinkling the onion planted areas with ground pepper, ginger, or chilli powder to repel females from laying eggs. Summer ploughing is also advisable.

Diseases of Onion:

Basal Rot disease of Onion: Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cepae

Symptoms: The leaves turn yellow, and then dry up. The whole plant shows complete drying of the leaves. The bulb of the affected plant shows soft rotting and there will be a whitish moldy growth on the scale of infection.

Chemical Management: Crop rotation is recommended. Soil drenching with Copper oxychloride 0.25 % is also advisable.

Non-chemical management/ Natural control/ Organic control: Using disease-free seeds and bulbs. Crop rotation for 3 years is recommended for heavy disease incidence. Removing and destroying material of any Allium plants, including residue from the previous crop, volunteer plants from storage.

Downy mildew: Peronospora destructor

Symptoms: White downy moldy growth appears on the surface of the leaves. Finally, the infected leaves are dried up and drop down.

Chemical Management: Three sprays with Mancozeb 0.2 % is always effective. Spraying starts at 20 days after transplanting and repeats at 10-12 days interval.

Non-chemical management/ Natural control/ Organic control: Plant resistant onion cultivars. Crop rotation is also recommended.

Purple blotch: Alternaria porri

Symptoms: It mainly occurs at the top of the leaves, the infection starts with whitish minute dots and develops as lesions on the leaves with irregular chlorotic areas on the tip portion of the leaves. The lesions develop towards the base of the leaf. The leaves gradually die from the tip downwards.

Chemical Management: Seeds are treated with Thiram @ 4 g/kg seed. Three foliar sprays with Copper oxychloride 0.25 % or Chlorothalonil 0.2 % or Zineb 0.2 % is recommended.

Non-chemical management/ Natural control/ Organic control: Optimum spacing of plants and regular weeding and proper watering will increase air circulation and decrease the duration of leaf wetness. Avoiding excessive nitrogen application in fields. Crop rotation without onion for at least three years.

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Maturity indices/ Harvesting indices of Onion:

  1. Harvesting of onion crop depends upon the purpose for which the crop is planted and maturity depends upon the variety sown.
    2. Green Bunch Onion: Green onion is best when they are of lead pencil size bulbs forms.
    3. Ripe Bulbs: Ripe bulb crop is ready for harvest in 3 to 4 months of transplanting. Neck fall is the correct indication of maturity. Development of red pigmentation and the characteristics pungency of the variety is also an important index.

Harvesting and Yield of Onion:

Harvesting of Onion: 0nion crop is ready for harvesting in five months. However, for marketing as green onions, the onion crop becomes ready to harvest in three months only.

Yield of Onion: Onion generally yields about 25 to 30 t / ha. However, it may vary from region to region.

Conclusion: Onion cultivation is a boon to farmers and it always leads to higher production and income.

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