The time is now – if not already – to get your seeds in the ground. Our April crop focus deals with one of the most diverse vegetables: onions.
Along with its assortment of variations, the onion is also one of the eldest vegetables, from its first-known cultivation in ancient Egypt to the well-established Vidalia onion today. What strikes me is the fact that onions virtually can grow in any corner of our country. Of course, there are certain tweaks and practices in every region, and our “Peeling the Onion” on page 10 will extensively tackle that topic as well as the varieties. We will also profile one of the largest growers in the West, Rio Farms and Gills Onions and look into the process of growing the popular crop.
As for any crop, an intense concentration is required. As the owners of Gills Onions explain, “Our passion is for all things onions – including history, where they came from, and how they came to be grown, eaten and revered for their flavor and many uses. Can you imagine the surprise when someone bit into an onion for the first time? Was it a dare?”
When I meet successful growers from across the country, I often sense their dedication to their crop. They are as diverse as the onion and its production. There are many ways to make an onion rise.
One region where the commitment was prevalent is the Pacific Northwest. While attending the Pacific Northwest Vegetable Association Conference last November, I saw firsthand that the subject of onions was front and center. And rightfully so. The area (Washington and Idaho-eastern Oregon, West/Central Oregon) accounts for almost 50,000 acres of onion production – 40 percent of the total U.S.-planted onion acreage.
While that region takes onion growing seriously, there’s also a good chunk of production coming from states such as California (home of Rio Farms/Gills Onions), Georgia and New York. Best practices abound, and I’m sure you may have the perfect technique when growing onions. Actually, we would like to hear from you about that. Feel free to send us all the unique methods of your large-scale growing.
No matter where you are in our great country, we hope that you gain much value from this issue and it helps you in your new growing season. Cheers!