Onion Farming: The NO. 1 Complete Guide


Table of Contents

Onion farming, either large scale or small scale, requires a significant investment of time and resources. There is a demand for Onions worldwide for local and export use. With the right knowledge and skills, your investment will pay off.  The upside to onion farming is that it’s relatively clear-cut when compared to other types of crops. To read about other vegetable production guide click here

Onion Farming

This is the brief guideline to start your onion farm quickly and all the things you have to know before and after putting on a farm to grow onions. 

Onions play a vital role in a significant number of recipes and the most used herbs in the world. Farming onions is an excellent choice for many farmers around the world.

We will try to guide you using easy to adopt techniques so you can quickly begin the onion farming journey.

Healthy stands mean Plentiful harvest based on geography; the perfect plantings achieve 60,000 to 140,000 bulbs (plants) per acre of land. In Georgia, for example, 60,000 to 80,000 plants for each acre of land are ideal, whereas around 100,000 bulbs focus in Texas. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this can go as high as 120 bulbs per acre 

Nowadays, onion farming becomes very popular among cultivars.

There are many countries in the world producing onion. The listing of the top 10 onion generating international locations is as follows.

How to Start Onion Farming?

The onion farming process: Onion is a susceptible crop as like many other sensitive crops. Before planning for onion farming, you should consider the following factors, which will be beneficial for more excellent production. We are trying to describe the onion growing procedure step by step.

Here is a short overview of the whole cultivation method:

There are several things you should consider before starting an onion farm. I.E., the soil situation, climate/weather, and temperature, deciding on a place of onion cultivation.

After stabilizing the correct setup, you need to plant onion inside the field, with fertilizers depending on your soil and crop demands. Organic fertilizer is a great choice here.

The next step will be caring. Cultivating vegetables and herbs is easy as well as demanding. But proper care can ensure better production, which requires better knowledge about crop demands. We share a standard guideline for onion farmers.

Fertilizing the plant and controlling pests and disease is sometimes a challenge for onions cultivators. So be careful in this stage.

Finally, harvesting it from the field and appropriately storing them.

Right now, there may be a lot of questions in your mind. I am starting with how to and when to. Let’s find those answers below.

Choosing the Best Type of Onion Varieties:

There are a lot of varieties of onion. Some are incredibly sizable (nearly 0.4kg), and some are small (less than 50 gram). Now the question is which one you should for your onion farm.

You have to choose varieties depending on the Season. And how much sunlight you can get in that period. Based on the sunlight availability, we can divide them into three main categories. Let’s learn about those three categories and the best varieties:

Onion Farming practical guide

Short-day onions: 

Grows where 10-12 hours of sunlight. Suitable for winter seasons.

Varieties: Georgia Sweet, Sweet Red, Granex, Red Creole, Red Burgandy, White Bermuda, Vidalia, and Southern Belle, Texas Super Sweet, Texas Sweet White, etc.

Intermediate-day onions:

This type can grow in any season and requires 12-14 hours of sunlight.

Varieties: Cabernet, Candy Onion, Red candy apple, etc.

Long-day onions:

It requires 14-16 hours of sunlight. Thrives well in dry season (tropics)/summer(temperate region). The best varieties are Alisa crag, white sweet Spanish, Copra, Walla Walla Sweet, Paterson, Yellow Sweet Spanish, and several others.

Best Season and weather for farming onion:

Since every crop is depending on the cultivation season. Onion bulbs are planted in the cold Season and usually cultivated during the late winter season and harvested just before the summer begins. This timing varies in the tropics while early planting can start in mid-March, dry season planting can commence from November 

If you want to grow onions from seeds, the session starts in the spring season. It requires some extra days to mature.

The transplanting of the seedlings occurs between mid to late spring.

The ideal temperature for onion farming is between 13-25°C (55-75°F) for Asia and between 8°C – 30°C (46°F-86°F.) for America and 15-30°C Subsaharan Africa. 

Sadly, onion does no longer develop properly in places with heavy snow or heavy rainfall.

Best Soil condition for onion farming:

Before planting onion, you should learn about the best soil condition and other relevant factors that affect onion farming.

Open field Onion planting

Red loam and sandy loam are surprisingly most efficient for onion farming. No matter if you don’t have those types as soil. Scientifically you can improve your soil by using organic materials though not recommended in most of the cases. We do not suggest to do so.

Onions are mostly grown in any soil, but the soil should be loose, well-drained, and have plenty of nitrogen.

Now, determine the soil condition measure the pH and other soil nutrients. The ideal range of soil pH for growing best onion is between 5.5 and 6.5.

Requirements for the Onion cultivations:

The other factors which can affect the production along with soil are:-

You should consider the area of onion farming before you planted onion. Onions are under bright sunlight without shades. Choosing a sunny area where your onion plants won’t shade is beneficial for your plants.

The cultivation process of onion is more or less the same for all types of onion though different varieties require different soil and fertilization.

Read the instruction manual provided with seeds. Or contact the nearest govt—agricultural help point.

Nutrition facts

Total Fat0.1 g0%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Sodium4 mg0%
Potassium145 mg4%
Total Carbohydrate9 g3%
Protein1.3 g2%

Tools and equipment used in onion farming:

These tools are not mandatory for every farmer or farm, especially beginners. The modern onion farming tools are:-

  1. Weeding tools,
  2. Bearings,
  3. Belted Chain Sprockets,
  4. Onion harvester,
  5. Rollers, etc

Methods of planting onion:

There exist a wide range of variations of onion, depending on their shape, size, and color.

Generally, Red, yellow, and white are the three groups of onion widely cultivated across the world.

But luckily, there are three methods of planting onion. You may apply transplants, sets, or seeds.

Planting Onion sets [onion bulb] into bed:

A less popular alternative to direct seeding is planting sets. Sets are a little onion bulb that is farmed rather than seed to produce a mature bulb. Sets are immature bulbs turn the earlier year and offer the most farmers choices.

They are the simplest to plant, the shortest time to harvest, and the disease’s limited complication. However, sets are more prone to bolting than seedlings or transplants. Roughly 15 years back, business cultivators tried different things using sets and observed direct seeding to be more successful.

Planting Onion sets in to field:

  1. Seedlings have different diameters, so sort seedlings by size before planting.
  2. Plant the bigger seedlings set together only 2 inches apart and the small at close spacing.


Transplants, which are seedlings begun in the current maturing Season and sold in groups, are available in nurseries or other marketplaces.

They usually frame good quality bulbs within a short period (60 days or less). They are subject to diseases. Farmers Choice is slightly limited in that case. So this is suggested for fast growth.

Grow onion from Seeds:

Farming onions from seeds allow a great benefit of a wide choice in cultivars. The main difficulty of starting from seeds is, it will take up to 4 months to mature your crop. In cold areas, the farmer will need to begin their onion seedlings indoors. Otherwise outdoor.

Seed sowing method on Indoor:

Remarkably tiny seed such as pelleted grain requires being sown inside.

Use 4- x 6-inch containers filled with a seed starting mix mostly compost [60-80%] near the top.

For sowing seeds, place the seeds straight on the soil surface

Moreover, light aids in germination, so do not cover with soil.

The seed starting mix moist needs to keep a warm and humid place.

The ideal warmth to grow seedling from maximum seeds is around 68-72 degrees F.

It will take two weeks approximately to sprout seedling.

Seed sowing method in outdoor:

Larger Medium seed/ grains are sown outdoor and not indoors.

Sow the seed in two rows, about a 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep.

Water them properly, put shade if necessary.

Transplants of seedlings

Plant the seedlings in the mid to late spring/ rainy Season.

Plant your seeds in the row, 4 to 6 inches apart.

1 to 2 feet distance should maintain between any two.

 After, cut the tips to approximately 4 inches and put them about 1/2 inch below the surface.

An organic buffer line of 30-50 cm can be introduced after several rows to ensure healthy crops.

Care for onion the plants:

Proper management of watering & fertilization gives you double production as an onion is a susceptible plant. It requires frequent treatments of fertilizer.

Onion also farms with different crops like ginger, tomato. After cultivating ginger, you can even grow maize as an intercrop.

In supplement of fertilizer, onions require moist, weed-free soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.68, which we talk earlier.

To get the best results, the first application of fertilizer should be about three weeks after planting and then applied every 2 to 3 weeks.

When the neck starts feeling soft, stop applying any more fertilizer. And should occur nearly four (4) weeks earlier to harvest.

You must be watering after feeding and maintain moisture as early as you can during the growing season.

Onion roots are vulnerable to moisture. So they need a steady watering process to thrive without problems.

The closer to harvest time, the more water will require for onion.

The farmer who lives in the area with limited sunlight should grow short-day varieties, while long-day varieties seeds for whore live in areas where sunshine is abundant.

Each onion needs about 1 inch of water per week.

Pest and Disease Controlling Methods of Onion farming:

Onions are more sensitive to insects, weeds, and diseases than other vegetable crops. Everyone generally expects a disease and insect-free crop.

But the larvae are the one possible pest of onion. It’s 1/3-inch-long white, legless worms that move in a line from one bulb to the next and make holes upwards to feed on the stems.

To overcome the excessive damage, scatter-plant onions throughout the field. It will discourage the adult flies from setting their eggs at the plants’ roots if you put a thin layer of sand around onion bulbs.

There may be a chance to affect scarcely visible onion thrips during hot, dry weather. It causes damaged plants with shiny spots on the leaves.

Thrips overwinter in weeds, maintaining the garden clear. Help you to reduce insect populations. Covering a studious mulch, such as aluminum flake, among rows may be an efficient way to deflect the thrips. The early you can discover that problem, you can spray bulbs with Beauveria bassiana or spinosad to combat thrips.

A disorder called smut makes swelling up or hardening of leaves just about the neck, which ultimately blasts and drops dusty black spots over the plant. In the middle of the summer, humid weather downy mildew, a purplish mold, shows up during warm, wet weather.

Onions are moreover subject to pink roots; it makes basal roots turn different colors, and after that shrink and neck spoilt, due to this reason, tissues become the hard and black crust.

All these issues are made by fungi in the soil and can be eliminated by rotating crops and working humus within the onion bed to accommodate good drainage.

Harvesting Tips [When & how to]:

If you harvest young onions, just pull them up a few weeks after plantation if you want them to use as “spring onion” or “scallions” as there is no ideal measurement; just pull them up when they are big enough to suit you.

When the onion tops turn in to yellow, the crop has matured enough to harvest.

Use a garden fork to pull them up early in the morning on a sunny day, loosen the soil, lay them in a dry airy location for two days, and always handle them very carefully.

To avoid sunscald, lay the tops of one row over the bulbs of another.

Once the onions are dehydrated, cut back the tops to one inch. Now they are ready to eat.

Storing Onions 

To store onions, select a cool, dry, well-ventilated location, such as a garage or cellar. The ideal temperature for storing onion is 40 to 50 degrees F.

When the outer skins are dried, clean the soil and release the tops.

Place them in mesh bags to allow airflow.

Periodically check for any spoiled onions, and remove them to avoid deterioration of the others.

Usually, sweeter onions can’t store as long as more pungent ones, so use the more delicious onions.

This is not the end of onion farming. There are lots more to explore about onion farming, to know the different methods of onion plantation, or the business plan of onion farming, the unique technique of onion cultivation, and more stay tuned with us.

How much does it cost to grow an acre of Onions?

Estimated Cost$500 – $3000 per acreMarketFood services, wholesale grocery, farmer’s markets, roadside standsMarket PotentialGoodProfit Potential$0 to $1,500+ per acreMinimum Size1/2 to 1 acreEquipment RequirementsTractor, shredder, disk, bedder, planter, herbicide sprayer, insect/disease sprayer, cultivator, weeder or harvest blade and trailer. Labor requirements: two men per acre, more at harvest, very labor intensive at harvest – Risk Factor: High

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At Sabiagrik, we're dedicated to bridging the knowledge gap in the agriculture sector, helping enthusiasts transform their passion into thriving businesses.