Onions planting guidelines.

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The potential yield for Red Passion F1 is about 23,000 kgs ((23 tonnes) per acre with a seed rate of 1.5 kg per acre approximately costing Ksh 19,200. The benefits of Red

Passion F1 are: fast maturityof 120 days, after transplanting; resistance to pink rot diseases and purple blotch tolerance to downey mildew and blights; medium sized bulbs with a very striking red colour and ideal shape; long shelf / storage life of up to 6 months without sprouting, rotting or losing weight ; fitted to wide climatic range from very hot to mildly cool areas (like endarasha in mweiga)

Cultural activities

Onion requires being planted in a nursery for about a  month and then transplanted at pencil thickness. Depending on weather, onion is mainly grown with rain fed conditions
although one of the best crops for irrigated farming.

Diseases and pests vary with weather although to watch out is the downey mildew and serious pests of thrips.

Onion equires a dry period at harvesting to ensure good curing and reduce rotting.

labour is equal for all onions including the open pollinated varieties.

By James Nderitu, sales officer
Simlaw Seeds Co.  Ltd

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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