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Sprouted onions from the latest cull, on May 21st. While these can still be used, I find the flavor changes significantly once they have sprouted, so they normally are enjoyed by the sheep instead.

Back in late October 2019, I reported on the grow out of 7 different onions; 6 yellow storage onions (5 open pollinated and one hybrid as a control) and one red storage onion, in this post.

I kept the 10 largest onions from each variety (except the red), and put them into storage in my garage pantry, where the temperature never gets down to freezing, but is otherwise unregulated. In short, typical of most home storage. The room tends to be 10-20 degrees warmer than the outside temp in the winter, and cooler than outside but warmer than the house in the summer.

The red variety, Rossa Di Milano, was a disappointment from the get go. I had poor germination, only harvested a few, and many of those were doubles, which generally don’t store well. The six I kept were sprouting by March.

This is what the yellow storage onion counts looked like. These are unsprouted onions left from the 10 I started with, in March, April and May.

MarchAprilMay
New York Early10103
Clear Dawn993
Yellow of Parma 863
Cortland Yellow Storage10104
Dakota Tears Yellow Storage865
Newburg Yellow Storage10106

Cortland was the hybrid, bred for long storage ability. So that acted as the control. Clearly Dakota Tears and Newburg were the winners for storage, most lasting into May, with Newburg the clear winner. Remember, the info on Newburg was “originally selected from a European commercial hybrid storage onion, it was reselected under and for organic production. The tightly wrapped, copper- skinned, spherical bulbs are known for their excellent storage life, crisp texture, and medium hot rich flavor. Newburg has out-yielded hybrids when trialed under organic conditions, making it a great replacement for the classic hybrid, Copra.””

In addition, Newburg had the highest brix (sugar) content and the best yields from my trials as well. So wow. Let’s hear it for Newburg. Given that it was harvested by September 1st, that is almost 9 months of storage. I’ll be letting the 6 I have left sprout and will grow them out for seed next year.

I found a few more open pollinated varieties to try out this year, including Southport White Globe and Southport Red Globe from Reimer seeds and a Sweet Spanish from Baker Creek (which is supposed to store well, so not a “summer sweet” onion like the Walla Walla’s, as far as I can tell. So the onion experiments continue.

© 2020 Miles Away Farm, where we’re miles away from being done experimenting with onions, and have some very cool bean varieties planted this year as well!

Onion harvest from way back in 2011.

Every year, I do my best to grow enough onions for our own use that I don’t have to buy onions at the store. This is kind of a silly point of pride, as store bought onions are inexpensive and even when conventionally grown have a low residual pesticide residue. But there’s just something about having a storage pantry full of onions I grew myself that makes me feel rich in a way that buying from the store can’t provide. So I try to store 100 storage onions in the fall. (Figuring a rough average of two a week for 52 weeks, when in reality some weeks are higher and some lower depending on what else is in season and whether or not its stew season).

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Jennifer Kleffner

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