- Author: Alison Collin
2014 Onion Trial Results
Conducted by Pat West, Master Gardener Volunteer
In an attempt to show which of the three types of onions are best suited to growing conditions in the Eastern Sierra a small-scale trial was performed by one of our Master Gardeners. The plants were grown in as similar conditions as possible and included 9 different varieties, three each of short day, intermediate and long day.
Location: West Bishop, full sun.
Soil: Raised bed, garden soil heavily amended with compost and some chicken manure. Pre-treated with 10-20-10 feed and weed mixed into the top three inches of soil. Mulched with grass clippings.
Irrigation: Drip, with lined buried 1” under the surface. Watered as necessary.
- Short day: Red Creole (red), Texas Early White, Texas Super Sweet (yellow)
- Intermediate day: Red Candy Apple, Super Star (white), Candy (yellow)
- Long day: Red Zeppelin, Ringmaster (white), Walla Walla (yellow).
Planting date: March 29, 2014 (all varieties), plants spaced at 4”
- 3/29 Side dressing at time of planting.
- 4/28 Side dressing
- 6/21 Spray of Fish Emulsion Mix
- 7/21 Spray of Fish Emulsion Mix.
Pests: The plants were affected by thrips later in the summer.
- Bulbed up June 1
- Tops tipped over July 1
- Stems browned by July 12
- Harvested July 16 and set to cure for 2 weeks.
- 3 Red = 8oz.
- 35 White = 6lbs 9oz.
- 12 Yellow = 2lbs 9oz.
- Total: 50 plants yielded 8lbs 9 oz., averaging 2.1oz. each and 2¼ inches in diameter.
- Bulbed up June 14
- Red tipped July 14, foliage dried, harvested July 22,
- White tipped Aug 1, foliage dried, harvested by Aug 10
- Yellow tipped Aug 8, foliage dried, harvested by Aug 1
- 15 red = 1lb 14oz., aver. diameter 1¾”
- 26 white = 12lb 3oz., aver. diam. 2½”
- 80 yellow = 11lb 9oz., aver. diam. 2¼”
- Total: 71 plants yielded 25lbs 10 oz., averaging 5.8oz each.
- Bulbed up: Red Aug 1, White July 16, Yellow July 9
- Red tipped over Aug 15, foliage dried and harvested Aug 20
- White had thick necks which did not tip over and did not dry. Harvest Sept 6.
- Yellow tipped Aug 10, foliage dried and harvested Aug 15
- 24 red =6lb, average diameter 1½”
- 19 white = 7lbs 5oz., average diam. 2½”
- 23 yellow = 11lb, average diam 2½”
- Total: 66 plants yielded 24lbs 5oz., averaging 5.2oz. each.
Curing: All onions were stored on racks for a couple of weeks until the outer skins were well dried.
In all cases the red varieties were considerably smaller than either the white or yellow varieties.
The short day varieties performed poorly with the tops tipping over and drying up before the bulbs had developed any appreciable size.
The intermediate or day neutral varieties performed best all round. They bulbed up well, were a nice size, were firm and round and cured well with a nice dry skin and neck. Candy also stored very well.
The long day ones grew and bulbed up well but the Ringmaster had very thick necks which refused to tip over and dry. They remained moist even after harvest and curing, so had to be used quickly. Interestingly, another Master Gardener had the same problem with Long day yellow onions (Golden Grande) grown in very similar conditions, although the same variety grown the previous year did not have the thick necks and had dried and stored well. The only obvious difference being that 2014 was a very hot summer, that crop had been mulched, and was much affected by thrips.
Conclusion: From this small study it would appear that the intermediate or day neutral varieties perform reliably in the Eastern Sierra high desert.