Commercially, onion is an important crop globally. The scientific name of onion is Allium cepa. And it belongs to Amaryllidaceae family. The onion farming process is simple. Additionally, having an area of land, any individual can start onion cultivation for profit.
Around 65% of global onion output comes from the 8 top onion producing countries. Some of the major onion producing countries are Pakistan, Egypt, Russia, India, Iran, USA, and China. Today, onion is third most eaten a vegetable in the US, right after tomato and potato. Areawise India ranks second while production wise it ranks third among the total onion production in the world. In India, major onion producing states are Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra.
Economic Importance of Onion
Basically, onion is the most important commercial spice crop both in the domestic and export market. Actually, people consume the onion leaves and immature bulbs as the vegetable. Additionally, people consume it both as raw and cooked form.
Apart from the domestic consumer consumption, food processing industry is a big consumer of onion. Basically, onion is an important item for making sauce, ketchup, puree, pickles etc. In addition, it is also an important ingredient for producing the ready-to-eat foods.
Onion is a popular crop globally. And you can earn potential revenue from onion export also. Some of the major onion importing countries are USA, UK, Malaysia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Canada.
Health Benefits of Onion
- First of all, onion contains vitamin B and vitamin C and minerals Ca and Fe.
- It has medicinal properties and used against an earache, colic pain etc.
- Additionally, onions contain chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar.
- Raw onion lowers the production of bad cholesterol (LDL), thus keeping your heart healthy.
- Onions scavenge free radicals, thereby reducing your risk of developing gastric ulcers.
- Finally, chewing raw onions improve our oral health. They help eliminate bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum issues.
Things to Consider in Commercial Onion Farming
- The primary criteria of commercial onion farming is the land. You must have an adequate area of land for commercial production.
- Additionally, choose the right variety according to the ecological condition of your area.
- Craft a business plan before starting the plantation.
- Identify the market. You must have the both financial and marketing plan.
- Finally, arrange the necessary inputs like irrigation, nutrients, medicine, pesticides etc.
Best Varieties for Onion Farming
Basically, there are three types of Onion.
a) Red Coloured Varieties:
Kharif: Agrifound light red, Agrifound dark red, Baswant – 780, Niphad – 53.
Rabi: Niphad – 241, Niphad 2071 – 1, Pusa safed.
b) White Coloured Varieties:
Niphad – 5- 7- 1, Niphad – 123-7-1, Phule safed.
C) Salad Variety:
Early Granno (yellow salad onion)
Additionally, you can try Bellary Red, Pusa Red, NP 53, Arka Niketan, Arka Kalyan, Arka Lalima, Arka Kirthiman, Arka Pitamber, Arka Kalyan, Agri Found Light Red Agri Found Dark Red and Rose onion varieties.
Agro Climatic Condition for Onion Farming
Generally, you can grow onion crop in a different type of climatic conditions. However, it doesn’t prefer mild climate. Additionally, extremes of heat, cold and rainfall are not suitable for growing onion. Onion grows well in the optimum temperature range 14°C to 16°C for 10 hours in a day with 70% humidity is best for getting a good yield.
The rainfall requirement is 750 to 1000 mm/year. In addition, it requires bright sunny weather during bulb development stage, therefore, grows well in rabi season.
Ideal Soil Condition for Onion Farming
Basically, you can grow onion in alluvial, loamy medium type of soils. In addition to this, onion prefers well-drained loose and friable soil. Heavy clay, marshy and alkaline soils are not suitable. Provide an optimum pH range between 5.8 and 6.5.
Onion Farming Basic Steps
You can raise onion seedlings on the nursery bed. Here, you can apply a seed rate of 5 to 6 kg per hectare. First, sow the seeds crosswise in rows. Then cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Then irrigate the beds at 3 to 4 days interval and later on at 8 to 10 days interval. Seedlings become ready for transplanting within 45 to 60 days when they attain the height of 10 to 15 cm.
You can grow onion at any time during the year. Plant the seedlings at a spacing of 10 cm apart on both the sides of the ridges. However, you can also apply flat bed method for transplantation.
Apply 25 to 30 cart loads of well rotten FYM or compost at the time soil preparation per hectare. For the onion, you must apply 50 kg N, 25 kg P^Os & 25 kg Potash, as usual method.
Water requirement of the crop at the Initial growth period is less. However, you must stop irrigation 15-20 days before attaining maturity for improving the keeping quality of bulbs. Frequent irrigation delays maturity. In Kharif season, depending upon the rains and time of planting 6-10 irrigations are enough. In rabi, 10-15 irrigations are given at bulb formation, irrigation is necessary and moisture stress at this stage results in low yield.
You must keep your onion farm weed free. If you can’t control the weeds in early stage but remove, later on, will injure the onion bulbs and the out-turn will be poor. 2-3 hoeing and weedings are enough for the crop. After 2 to 3 irrigations, earth up the poor plants.
Harvesting & Yield
Harvest the onion bulbs at the right stage of maturity. It is important in deciding storage life of onion as you can store the bulbs may for about six months. The onion bulbs, reach maturity when the plants cease to produce new leaves and roots. In onion, neck fall is the indication of maturity. However, the time of harvesting depends on several factors like planting season, cultivar, market price and condition of the crop.
In rabi season, the yield of onion is around 25-30 tons per hectare. However, in the Kharif season, it is comparatively low. You can expect a 150 to 250 quintals of yield/ha
After harvesting, keep the bulbs in open space for 3 to 4 days under the sun for initial drying. Then sort out the diseased, rotten and damaged bulbs. Finally, store the bulbs in a cool, dry and ventilated store. Use several compartments to avoid heaping of bulbs. During storage, inspect the bulbs regularly and remove the rotten bulbs. However, you can expect a storage loss of about 13 to 16% due to rotting and drying. You can store onion in cold storage at 10C to 20C temperature for 7 to 8 month period. In the case of large-scale onion farming, you must have an arrangement of proper storage of the bulbs.