India stands proudly as the world’s second-largest onion (Allium cepa) producer, known for its unique and year-round harvests. This aromatic vegetable is a member of the Allium family, which also includes garlic, leeks, and chives, adds its distinct pungent flavour and aroma to countless Indian dishes. The cultivation of onions is a vital pillar in India’s agricultural sector as, makes major contributions to the agricultural economy. Leading onion-producing states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh play a key role in this industry. Yet, there is untapped potential for boosting productivity by fine-tuning growth factors. In this blog, we will look into the fundamental aspects of onion cultivation, from nurturing early seedlings to the successful harvest.
Seasons of Onion Growing:
- Kharif Season: This season, which begins around June and extends into October, is ideal for growing onions. The monsoon rains provide the necessary moisture for the crop to flourish.
- Rabi Season (Spring Onion): The Rabi season, starting from November and continuing until April, is another significant period for onion cultivation. It utilizes the post-monsoon conditions to nurture the crop.
Types of Onions:
Types of onion depend on the colour of the outer coat. In India, red onions occupy the maximum cultivation area but white onions also have significant area and market share.
- Red Onions: These onions, known for their rich colour and slightly sweet flavour, are a staple in Indian cuisine and widely used in salads and pickles.
- White Onions: With their milder flavour and crisp texture, white onions are popular for medicinal uses.
- Green Onions: Fresh onions harvested and used without drying along with their leaves, commonly used for decorating other dishes.
The onion crop is a cool season crop.
- Temperature Range: Onions thrive in temperatures ranging from 13°C to 32°C, making them suitable for the diverse climates across India.
- Rainfall: Adequate rainfall during the growing season is crucial for a successful onion crop. The right amount of moisture contributes to the development of healthy bulbs. There should be an irrigation facility as the crop requires proper water availability in the soil at the bulb growth stage.
Onion Cultivation Methods
There are two major methods of onion cultivation first one is directly sowing onion seed in the main field, and the second one is growing onion in the early stage in the nursery and then transplanting seedlings after 50 to 60 days
Common Varieties of Onion
- Bhima Super seeds
- Royal selection onion,
- JSC Nasik Red onion (N-53)
- Prema 178 onion
- Gulmohar onion
- Laxmi onion seeds diamond super
- Royal Selection onion,
- Nasik Red onion (N-53)
Varieties are subject to local climatic conditions and other cultivation parameters.
Many Indian farmers prefer to grow their own nursery seedlings rather than purchasing them from the market. This practice ensures the quality and health of the seedlings.
- Seed Rate: For growing onion in 1-hectare average seed requirement is from 5 to 7 KG depending on variety, spacing etc.
- Seed Treatment: Seeds treated with Azospirillum @ 400 grams/kg of seed give good results.
- Seedling Care: The care in the nursery stage is the key to maximum yield in the field. Diseases like damping-off, cause main loss in this stage. The use of Root Fit in drenching can safeguard the seedlings against fungal infections.
Soil Requirement and Preparation:
- Ideal Soil:
Loamy soil with excellent drainage properties is the best choice for onion cultivation. The soil’s texture is vital as it affects water retention and root development. pH range for soil should be 6.5 to 7.5 too high or low, pH may hamper the growth of onions.
- Soil Preparation:
Preparing the soil for the transplantation of onion seedlings is an important process. Farmers should ensure that the soil is well-tilled and free from debris that could hinder the growth of the crop. Supplement the field with 20 – 25 tons of well-decomposed FYM (farm yard manure) in the last ploughing.
Prepare lands as per your irrigation method, if you have flood irrigation prepare proper ridges and furrows, for drip irrigation, you can follow raised a bed or you can also modify it as per your local condition.
Onions are heavy feeders so ensure proper application of fertiliser at the time of land preparation. A basel dose of fertiliser should be given as it ensures early nutrition availability for Onion. For rabbi the average basal dose NPK @ 50:50:70 Kg (It may vary as per your soil nutrition status). Apply Zinc sulphate as basal dose @ 40 kg/ha at the time of last ploughing.
- Sulphur fertilisers
In addition to NPK, Sulphur also play an important role in onion production, it directly improves the quality of onions. Sulphur is recommended as a basal dose at the time of transplanting application of 15 to 20 kg of Sulphur per hectare is sufficient for growing onions.
Onion crops give the best response to split doses of fertilisers especially for nitrogen after one month of transplanting apply 40 to 50 Kg/Ha of nitrogen and the same after completion of two months from transplanting.
– Transplanting of Seedlings:
Timing: Seedlings are typically ready for transplanting between 45 to 60 days from sowing. This stage marks a critical point in onion crop.
Transplanting Care: At the time of transplanting high-level care is necessary as seedlings are very pronounced to damage. A drenching of any best fungicide before transplanting will help to reduce fungal infection in the main filed. Transplanting should be done in the early morning, as high temperatures will hamper seedlings. Damage to the delicate seedlings should be minimized to ensure a successful crop.
Onion Crops require time-to-time irrigations in order to get maximum yield. In general, Onion needs irrigation at the time of transplanting, 3 to 5 days after transplanting and then after 7 to 10 days intervals. It depends on the soil type, if the soil is light then frequent irrigations are necessary. At the time of irrigation take care that excess water should get drained, as onion is very sensitive to water lodging conditions. It invites infection of different fungal diseases, like wilt, root rot etc. If possible, apply modern irrigation techniques such as drip or sprinkler, which not only save water quantity and ease for application of liquid fertilizer for plants but also improve yield significantly.
Management of Weed
Onion Crop is sensitive to weeds so, at least for the initial growth stages, the onion field should be free from weeds. Follow weed management practises like hand wedding, and use of suggested weedicides.
|1. Purple blotch||
|2. Basal rot||
|3. Downy mildew||
|4. Twister disease||
From time to time field observations and preventive majors are keys to managing pests and diseases. To save onions from pests and diseases, you have the best option of Kay Bee Bio’s Products which gives the best results and enhances the quality of produce.
For dry onion, the crop is ready for harvesting in five months. For green onion, the crop becomes ready in three months.
There are some typical signs of onion maturity like onion illegal events eventually collapsing at a point a little above the top of the bulb known as neck fall if 50% of the crop shows at this size it means our crop is ready for harvest. There is also a change in the color of the bulb as the bulb gets mature its color changes to red or white as per the variety. This parameter can be judged by uprooting some onions and then carefully observing for maturity signs. When you confirm maturity start harvesting onions, after harvesting don’t cut onion tops from the bulb immediately, because nutrients and cell sap available in the leaf get slowly translocated towards the bulb, which improves bulb quality as well as weight. Keep harvested produce under shade and after 5 days start cuttings of leaves.
- Storage: Final produce should be stored in a dry and cool place.
Onion is the key agricultural product of Indian Agri Markets. By understanding the critical factors of onion cultivation that impact the growth of onions, from seedlings to harvest, farmers can maximize their yields and the quality of their produce.
Proper knowledge of onion farming practices, like seedling care, soil preparation, and suitable climatic conditions, is crucial for a successful harvest. Careful attention to potential pest and disease issues and preventive measures. Harvesting onions at the right stage of maturity and proper post-harvest handling ensures high-quality produce.