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Onions : Best harvesting period

Onions fetch good prices between October and January when the local market highly depends on imports from Tanzania. The pick  harvesting season, which is characterised  by glut and low prices for major local producing areas such as Taveta and Loitoktok is February. You should therefore plan your production avoiding this time of the year. It is
advisable to focus on harvesting  when the prices are good; compared to storing of onions in anticipation of better prices as this reduces your profit margin due to costs associated with storage.

There are two major ways of preparing onions to improve on the storage quality. First, there is a process known as curing. Curing  involves bending the “necks” once they have attained maturity. The onions with bent “necks” should be left in the field for a period of 7 – 10 days before harvesting. This allows a compound know as melaic hydrazine to
flow from the leaves into the bulb to  prevent  sprouting during storage. Secondly, you can spray just before harvesting (up to 10
days) with some antisprouting agents that prolong shelf-life.

Despite curing  and spraying the onions with antisprouting agent, onions should be stored in a well aerated place to avoid rotting and sprouting. To achieve this, special structures are designed for storage of onions. The design of the structure can be obtained fromthe HCDA or Ministry of Agriculture Offices.

A word of caution!!!. Cultivation of onion is labor intensive and expensive. It is therefore recommended that beginners start with smallland parcel and progress with experience as onions are prone to a number of pests and diseases

By  Arim Ogolla, Horticultural Crops Development Authority

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