Thursday, January 19, 2017

Onions For 2017

Seed Grown Onions Ready For The Garden

I do believe I've really gone nuts this year so far as onions go.

Carried away hardly describes what happened.

Somehow or another I've got 20, yes TWENTY varieties to squeeze into the garden. Make that 19 varieties, one failed to germinate. Whew! Oh but wait, I noticed one seed had popped up this morning...

And the long keeping Zebrune shallots are returning too.

And then there's the I'itoi onions that are already in the garden.

So I guess that's actually 22... errr, 21

So, here we go.

The Onion Patch So Far...
I almost got most of the babies into the garden until the rain came in for good yesterday morning. So far I've got 15 varieties squeezed into the garden. There's up to 18 plants of each squeezed in 2 inches apart to be thinned to 4 inches apart. The rain has come just in time to get all those nicely settled in.

I'm growing most of the varieties from seed. There's 10 new varieties in the seed started lineup, although 1 of those is one I grew last year but from a different source. I'm also bringing back 3 of the best performers from last year but I've started 2 of those later. Those 2 I sowed just recently when I saw how well they've kept sitting in a basket on my living room floor (not ideal) and a little research about growing onions in this area indicates that it's not too late to start bulbing onions from seed.   And I'm trying a cipollini onion from last year that grew to be too large and split like crazy before it formed bulbs so I'm starting it later this year to see if it will form proper small bulbs. And I'm also trying 2 other cipollini types that I sowed just recently also.

There's 5 new varieties and one returning variety from Dixondale. A friend purchased a number of varieties from Dixondale and is swapping a few of each with me for some of my seed started varieties.

A few of the new onions are supposed to be good overwintering types and others are supposed to be good storage onions. I would really like to find a good storage onion that will store into and perhaps through winter. By this time of year my stock of onions is pretty much gone because I've had to do something with most of them because they either sprout or spoil in storage.

More Onions Getting Started

So, in alphabetical order, here's all of the varieties that I intend to grow. The description of each variety comes from the source. Notes are mine.

* New for 2017
** Same varieties from 2 different sources, one is described as long day and the other is described a short to intermediate day. One has the original Italian name and the other is in English. I'm growing both to see if they are the same or not.
*** These are returning from 2016 or before as noted.

Australian Brown (Baker Creek) *
Intermediate type - Introduced in 1897 by W. Atlee Burpee. This variety produces extra fine large bulbs that have superb flavor! The yellow-brown roots are a standard on our farm for their sureness to produce quality.

Bianco di Maggio cipollini (Gourmet Seed) ***
Excellent Italian cipollini with solid white flesh and sweet, mild flavor. Classic white cipollini, can also be grown out to a small early season onion. Short to Intermediate day. A bit later and larger than the Pompei. Untreated seed. 80 days
Note: this variety got to be too large to be a good cipollini onion last year so I want to try a later start so that they will be smaller when they start to form bulbs.

Bronze D’Amposta (Baker Creek) *
Attractive reddish-bronze onions are good-sized and sweet; an intermediate day type. A great variety for fresh eating, as it is not too hot tasting. A decent keeper in storage and a good overall red type. Named for the small city of Amposta, Spain.

Copra (Dixondale) *
Yellow, globe shaped, slightly pungent, hybrid
Size Potential: 3-4"
Storage Potential: 10-12 months
Days to Harvest: 110
Sweetest storage onion available. Best storage onion for Northeast and Northwest. Last year with the cooler and wetter weather in the Northeast they got much larger than usual. Normally it will make a nice round, hard 3" onion. Ideal for cooking since it maintains a nice flavor
Note: One reviewer successfully grows this variety in Santa Cruz which is only 40 miles away with a similar climate so that bodes well for growing them here.

Desert Sunrise (Territorial) *
100 days. A gorgeous, glossy crimson-skinned overwintering onion with flattened globe shaped, cippolini-type bulbs and crisp, white flesh. We love Desert Sunrise's sweet, yet mild flavor whether raw or cooked. Sturdy, productive plants.
Note: I started some of these in November but I'm thinking that I should start another later sowing in case they get to be too large.

Flat of Italy (Baker Creek) *
Intermediate type - Beautiful, red "cipollini" type, flat gourmet onions from Italy. They are bright red in color and very flat, perfect for fresh eating or cooking. This is a very old Italian variety that was mentioned by Vilmorin in 1885. A good choice for fresh market. Early
(I’m starting this one later so they don’t get to be too large)

Gate Keeper (Territorial) *
250 days. Intermediate-day variety. A very nice addition to the winter garden is the high yielding and easy-to-grow overwintering onion, Gate Keeper. The attractive brown-yellow, globe shaped onions reliably come through winter and are a welcome addition to your kitchen in the spring. The jumbo-sized onions have medium storage ability.

Highlander (Dixondale) *
Yellow, slightly flat globe shaped, sweet, hybrid
Size Potential: 3-4"
Storage Potential: 4-5 months
Days to Harvest: 85-90
We had great reviews of this variety we introduced in 2014! Slightly flat, globe-shaped bulbs are lighter in color than most long day varieties, but the bulbs are very firm with thin necks. This is the main variety planted by large onion farmers in the northeastern United States for early marketing. Since it is an extra-early maturing variety, it can be planted in all the intermediate day areas, as well as the long day areas. It will store up to four months. With its tight, thin neck it is easy to cure. Highlander is tolerant to botrytis and downy mildew, the two most common diseases in onions.

Keepsake (Territorial) *
280 days. Intermediate-day variety. Combining jumbo-sized bulbs with a very long storage ability certainly makes Keepsake a keeper. Bronze skins tightly wrap the vibrant white flesh of the globe shaped, 3-4 inch bulbs.

Red Candy Apple
Red Candy Apple (Dixondale) ***
Red Candy Apple is absolutely the most beautiful red onion on the market. When planted in short and intermediate day areas it produces larger bulbs. It will not size to jumbo onions in long day areas. However, it will make a great red bulb to be sold early at the farmers' market in all areas. To produce larger bulbs in long day areas, push this onion along with additional nitrogen applications. Dixondale Farms' exclusive since we are the only ones with the rights to the seed. Stanley Farms in Vidalia, Ga is using this variety for their red Vidalia type onions. It is the sweetest variety available.
Deep red, flattened globe shape, sweet, hybrid
Size Potential: 3"
Storage Potential: 2-3 months
Days to Harvest: 85-95
Note: I've grown these in 3 previous years, although not in 2016 and had great success with it. It doesn't bolt and it keeps relatively well. The only reason I didn't grow it last year was because I didn't want to grow out the minimum order from Dixondale and there are no seeds available to home growers.

Red of Florence (Baker Creek, new seeds) **
(Long-day) Oblong shaped, bright red onions; great for planting spring or fall; seems to do well in many areas. They are very mild and sweet, great for salads and pickling! A delicious Italian heirloom. Very rare.
Note: this could be the same as Rossa Lunga di Firenze except for the day length?

Red River (Dixondale)*
Dark red, globe shaped, sweet, hybrid
Size Potential: 3-4"
Storage Potential: 3-5 months
Days to Harvest: 95-105
We had great reviews of this new variety in 2014! Red River is a highly adaptable onion variety that can be planted in both intermediate day and long day regions since it is considered a long "intermediate day" or a short "long day." For customers that remember our very popular variety called Mars, this is the red variety that we feel comes closest to that maturity slot, flavor, and size. This variety boasts a strong root system and a nice dark red color. High yield potential and good storage potential. Resistant to pink root, fusarium, and bolting.

Rossa Lunga di Firenze
Rossa Lunga di Firenze **
A Florentine onion with excellent flavor. Distinctive long red Italian onion well-known as the 'Italian Torpedo', not to be confused with the top-shaped tropeana. Mild sweet taste and beautiful. Short to Intermediate Day. Untreated seed
Note: This is back for the third time in my garden. It is productive and resists bolting and is very tasty.

Rossa Piatta d’Italia (Gourmet Seed) **
Large flat-bulb variety of Italian onion, tender flesh, red-violet color. If you're looking for classic red Italian onion flavor, this is it. Not a great 'keeper', but fabulous for fresh use on salads, sandwiches, and more. (Red Flat Italian Onion). Intermediate day-length. Untreated seed. 105 days. 
Note: This variety kept fairly well. It had a tendency to split which is detrimental to its keeping qualities, but none of them bolted last year and I love it’s intense red color so I’m giving it a try again.
Note 2: this is the one that failed to germinate, the seeds were from last year so I'm not surprised. I'll put it on my list for 2018.

Texas Legend (Dixondale) *
Yellow, globe shaped, sweet, open pollinated
Size Potential: Up to 6"
Storage Potential: 3 to 4 months
Days to Harvest: 105 (matures 10-14 days earlier than the 1015Y Texas Supersweet)
Specifically bred for more healthful benefits than its parent variety, the original 1015Y Texas Supersweet, Texas Legerd is still as mild and sweet! The Texas Legend actually contains 25 active compounds that inhibit the growth of cancerous cells, help combat heart disease, and stimulate the immune system. It is also antibacterial and antifungal, to help ward off colds and relieve stomach upset and other gastrointestinal disorders. The Texas Legend matures 10 to 14 days earlier than the 1015Y Texas Supersweet and it is ideally suited for growing in the short day region.This one gives you a nice, globe-shaped, sweet, yellow onion that is open pollinated (meaning they are pollinated by wind, insects, or animals). This onion also has antifungal and antibacterial properties to help combat colds and relieve tummy aches, and other disorders of the gastrointestinal type. In the correct growing conditions, you should expect yields of 6″ onions, around 105 days after planting from transplants.

Top Keeper (Territorial) *
275 days. Intermediate-day variety. A top-notch onion whose name speaks for itself! Top Keeper is an overwintering onion that can store through November of the year that it is harvested. Top Keeper is less susceptible to bolting and splitting than other overwintering varieties. The flattened, globe-shaped, brownish yellow bulbs weigh approximately 3/4 pound.

Tropea Rossa Tonda
Tropea Rossa Tonda (Seeds From Italy) ***
This is one of the most famous onions in Italy and is the central point of a food festival, the Onion Festival of Tropea in July. Medium long day type, mid season. Round, red/pink on outside, becomes white in the center. If picked as baby, it is all white. Very sweet. 
Note: This was the best keeping onion of all the varieties that I grew in 2016. A few of them bolted in 2016 but they resisted splitting. Its good keeping quality is enough to make me try them again.

Tropeana Lunga (Baker Creek) *
Intermediate type - Long, tall bulbs are unique and popular with Mediterranean chefs. Harvest this gorgeous onion in mid-summer for your own delight or sell this winner for top prices at market. They are a lovely shade of red. This heirloom from Tropea is rare in America.

Yellow Granex (Dixondale) *
Yellow, semi-flat, sweet, hybrid
Size Potential: Up to 5"
Storage Potential: Approximately 1 month
Days to Harvest: 100
This variety was developed right here in Carrizo Springs, Texas by basically crossing the 1015 and the Bermuda to make a deep, flat onion. You may not get them as sweet as the famous Vidalia, Georgia onion, but they will be the sweetest variety in your garden. This variety was approved through vigorous testing to be allowed to be called a Vidalia onion. Each variety has to be submitted every two years and approved by their committee. Only approved yellow granex strains are permitted in the 17 county region. This is also the variety grown in Maui, Hawaii and around Tyler, Texas, where it is called the "Noonday Onion." It stores fairly well for this type of onion at approximately 1-2 months.
We planted the first crop of yellow granex back in the 1960s and were the first to ship any plants to Vidalia. Now we grow over 100 million of these just to be transplanted in Vidalia. They will probably never admit they had their start in Texas, but we know the truth!

Zoey (Territorial) *
105-110 days. Intermediate-day variety. Zoey offers the best of the best in onions. These big, solid bulbs have a delectably sweet flavor and will keep up to an amazing 4 months! Protected by sleek, copper skins, the firm, white onions easily attain 3 1/2-4 inches across. The robust plants are very uniform and reliable in a wide range of growing conditions, but we recommend planting early for best yield.

Zebrune shallots (Baker Creek)
Long-day Type--(Cuisse de Poulet du Poitou) Gorgeous heirloom French eschalion or “banana” type shallot yields plump, long, torpedo-shaped bulbs. Bulbs are brown tinged with pink. The flesh is very mild and sweet, and large yields may be had starting the first year from an early planting. Excellent keeping quality makes these gourmet shallots useful over a very long season!
Note: These are the best keeping alliums I have ever grown. They will store in my cool dark storage closet with very little spoilage, although they do continue to dry down and shrink with time, but in general they keep well into summer and some even into fall.


  1. Wow - and I mean WOW. I didn't realise that there were so many onion varieties. We grow from sets that arrived this week and I thought four varieties was overdoing it.

  2. I thought Copra had been discontinued and that the seed, if it could be found, was going to be old. Copra was my go-to onion until this year. Last year I had only 79% germination off "new" Copra seed and so decided not to take the chance again this year. Territorial is selling a new variety, Patterson, as a Copra replacement and I will see how that performs. I wish I had the space to grow more than three varieties. Deb S.

    1. Hi Deb. Interesting. The Copra plants that I put in came as seedlings from Dixondale. I don't know what's up with the seed supply, maybe Dixondale used the old seed or maybe they save their own.

  3. That is an impressive lineup of onions you have there! I will be content with my order of 3 from Dixondale (Candy, Super Star and Red Tropea). My I'itio onions are a big hit though, and so far have thrived in our relatively mild winter weather.


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