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I Am Wondering About Multiplying Onions. When Do You Take…

Larry Asked

I am wondering about multiplying onions. When do you take them up? Do you cut the tops off or just let them dry up? And do you take them apart if there is a cluster of them or leave them together? These are the onions you put out in the fall.

The Gardener’s Answer

Hello, Larry in Kentucky: Fall planted multiplier onions (potato onions and shallots) should be harvested when 75 percent of the top growth has fallen over. This means your onions are ripe and ready to be pulled from the soil. As you notice the tops begin to fall over, you will want to avoid adding any additional moisture. To harvest you can either gently pull up the clusters or gingerly dig them up. It is best to harvest during dry weather, and it is important to be careful during harvest not to bruise the onions as this can increase rot during storage. After they have been lifted from the ground, you will want to gently remove the soil. It is not essential that you get them completely clean, in fact, it is better to leave a bit of the soil intact. Move them out of the direct sun to avoid sunscald and allow them to dry. You can also leave them in the field but cover the bulbs with the tops to prevent sunscald. Good air circulation is essential at this stage. You can also hang the onions in small bunches to dry. After the onions have completely dried they are ready to be cured. Move the onions to a shaded, dry space that is not too cool and spread them out on screens or wooden shelves. This process usually takes three to four weeks. At this point they are ready for storage and you will want to remove all but ¾ of an inch of the tops and store them in cool (35-40 degrees F) space that is dry and has good air circulation. You can separate the bulbs from the clusters at this stage. Mesh bags or wooden crates with open slats work great for storage.

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