In India, Onion is the second largest growing crop in the world. Indian onions are remarkable for their pungency and are ready around the year. Indian onions have two crop cycles and the first harvest starts in November to January and the second harvest from January to May.
The Onion is a powerful cool-season biennial but regularly grown as an annual crop. The Onion has delicate, hollow leaves and support which enlarges to form a bulb. The bulb can be white, yellow, or red and require 80 to 150 days to harvest.
The major Onion producing states are Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Telangana in the country.
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Climate For Onion
Onion is a crop that can grow under a wide range of climatic conditions such as moderate, tropical and subtropical climates. The best performance can purchase in mild weather without the extremes of cold and heat and excessive rainfall. However, the onion plant is hardy and can also withstand freezing temperatures in the early stage.
In India, short-day Onion is produced in the plains and needs 10-12 hours of day length. On the other hand, the long-day Onion is planted in hills expecting 13-14 hours of day length. For vegetative growth, a lower temperature combined with a short photoperiod is needed, whereas a relatively higher temperature with more extended photoperiod is required for bulb development and maturity.
The optimum temperature for vegetative phase and bulb development is 13-24˚C and 16-25˚C, respectively. It needs about 70% relative humidity for good maturity. It can grow where the average annual rainfall is 650-750 mm, with good distribution during the monsoon period. However, areas with low (< 650 mm) or heavy rain (>750 mm) are not particularly suitable for the rain-fed crop.
Soil Requirement For Onion
Onion can grow in soils such as light loam, clay loam, silt loam and heavy soils. However, the best ground for successful onion cultivation is deep, friable loam and alluvial soils with good drainage, moisture-holding capacity and sufficient organic material.
In heavy soils, the bulbs produced may disfigure. Onion crops can grow successfully on rich soil with an application of organic manure before planting, and preparation of the field for onion farming should be excellent. Regardless of soil type, the optimum pH range is 6.0 – 7.5, but Onion can also be grown in mild alkaline soils. However, the onion crop is more sensitive to highly acidic, alkali and saline soils and waterlogging requirements.
Requirements For Planting Onions
Preparation of Land
Before transplanting, the field should plough and appropriately disked to eliminate debris and soil clods. Mainly, flatbeds of 1.5-2.0 m width and 4-6 m length are formed. However, flatbeds should be avoided to prevent waterlogging during Kharif or moist season.
Waterlogging favours Anthracnose disease, which is most devastating during the Kharif season. Therefore, BBF(Broad Bed Furrows) of 15 cm height and 120 cm top width with 45 cm furrow form to achieve proper spacing and population density. It is appropriate for drip and sprinkler watering as well. BBF is the best way for Kharif onion products because the excess water can drain out through the furrow.
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Transplanting of This Crop
Proper care should be taken while choosing seedlings for removal. Over and under-aged seedlings should avoid for better establishment. At the time of transplanting, one-third of the seedling top should be cut to get suitable proof. The onion seedling should recondition after dipping roots in carbendazim solution (0.1%) for two hours reduce fungal diseases during the establishment.
In addition to NPK, sulphur is also a necessary plant nutrient essential for onion crops for improving yield and the pungency of onion bulbs.
Sulphur is recommended as a basal dose at the time of transplanting. Application of 15 kg sulphur/ha is enough for growing onion crops in soils having a sulphur level above 25 kg/ha. In comparison, 30 kg sulphur/ha needed for grounds with a sulphur level below 25 kg/ha for optimum onion product. Soil application of 50 kg S /ha recommended for long day onion crops.
The irrigation requirement of Onion depends upon the season, soil type, irrigation method, and age of the crop. Onion needs irrigation at transplanting, three days after removing and subsequently at 7-10 days intervals depending upon the soil moisture. The Kharif crop generally needs 5-8 irrigations, the late Kharif crop requires 10-12, and the Rabi crop needs 12-15 irrigations.
Onion, a shallow-rooted crop, requires frequent light irrigation to keep optimum soil moisture for proper growth and bulb development. Watering needs to stop when the crop attains maturity (10-15 days before harvest) and the top starts falling, which helps in reducing the rotting through storage. Excess irrigation is always harmful, and a dry spell followed by irrigation will split the outer scales and form bolters. Water loss with flood irrigation is too high due to conveyance, seepage and percolation losses.
Modern watering methods such as drip and micro-sprinkler watering help save irrigation water and significantly increase the commercial bulb yield. In the case of drip irrigation, seedlings need to start at a spacing of 10 x 15 cm in a BBF (broad bed furrow) of 15 cm height and 120 cm top width with 45 cm furrow. Each BBF should have two drip laterals at (16 mm size) 60 cm distance with inbuilt emitters.
The distance between two inbuilt emitters should be around 30-50 cm, and the discharge flow rate is 4 l/hr. In the case of a micro-sprinkler, the distance between two laterals (20 mm) of the micro-sprinkler should be 6m with a discharge rate of 135 l/hr. The research outcome indicated that the drip irrigation at 100 % Pan Evaporation (PE) significantly improved the marketable bulb yield (15-25%) with higher percent A grade bulbs, water-saving of about 35-40% and labour saving of 25-30% as compared to flood irrigation.
Fertigation is an effective method of applying fertilizers through drip watering, which is used as the carrier and seller of irrigation water and produce nutrients. Application of fertilizers 70 kg N in seven splits through drip irrigation recommended for obtaining higher marketable bulb yield and cost-benefit ratio. The drip watering system not only helps in water-saving but also reduces nitrogen losses by leaching into groundwater, as in fertigation, fertilizer nutrients apply in the root zone only.
Onion harvest depends upon the goal for which the crop planted. For example, the Onion crop is ready for harvesting in five months for dry Onion. However, for selling as green Onion, the crop grows prepared in three months after removing.
Kharif season, bulbs are collected soon after the colour of leaves turns to slightly yellow and red pigmentation on bulbs grow. The best time to reap rabi onion is one week after 50% of tops have fallen over.
Onion farming needs several types of equipment, which play a significant role in agriculture. Tractor, Implements and harvesters are the most prominent in onion farming. Hence we suggest the Farmtrac 60 powermaxx tractor for enhancing the efficiency.
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