When to Harvest Red Onions from the Garden

The moment to pick red onions is eagerly awaited by many gardeners. The right time to harvest them is crucial for a good yield. This involves looking at the plant's growth and visual signs.

Wondering how to know when your red onions are ripe? This guide will teach you everything you need to know. You'll learn how to pick them at the best time, to enjoy the freshest, tastiest onions possible.

Understanding the Importance of Proper Harvesting Time

Harvesting red onions at the right time is key for the best quality and storage. If you pick them too early, you'll get smaller bulbs that won't last long in storage. But waiting too long means you might find onions that have split or are starting to rot.

Some signs show when red onions are ready to be picked. Things like the number of leaves, soft necks, and plant tops falling over give clear hints. These signs help farmers know the perfect time to harvest.

It's best to gather the onions when almost all the tops have fallen over. This allows for a process called curing. Curing helps dry out the onions a bit and makes their skin tougher, so they last longer in storage.

In order to pick the perfect time to harvest, farmers must pay close attention to their crops. They need to consider soil, weather, and nitrogen levels. These all play a role in how quickly the onions grow and mature.

Leaf Count
Onions are typically ready for harvest when they have 5-6 mature leaves.
Neck Softening
As the onion matures, the neck (where the leaves meet the bulb) will start to soften and loosen.
Falling Over
When 85-90% of the onion tops have fallen over, it's a sign that the bulbs are ready for harvest.
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Knowing when and how to harvest red onions can lead to a great harvest. By spotting the right signs and following the best guidelines, farmers can grow high-quality onions. These can be stored for a long time, ensuring a good supply.

Planting and Growing Tips for Red Onions

Growing delicious red onions in your garden needs some care. You can start with small bulbs, seeds, or plants. The important thing is to plant them at the right time and in the right way.

It’s best to grow red onion seeds indoors early, like 6-8 weeks before the last frost in your area. Put them in good soil and keep it damp to help them grow. After they're a few inches tall, move them outside.

To plant onion sets, do it late March or early April when the soil is ready. Make a small hole and put the sets or plants in with space around them. Don’t forget to water them after planting and keep the soil moist, watering 1-4 times a week.

Red onions love the sun and well-draining soil with the right pH. Mix the soil with compost and nitrogen-rich potting mix before planting. This helps the onions get the nutrients they need.

Red Onion Variety
Day Length Requirements
Recommended Planting Time
Approximate Maturity
10-12 hours
Late winter/early spring
90-100 days
14-16 hours
Late spring
100-120 days
12-14 hours
Early spring
80-100 days

Choosing the right red onion type depends on where you live and the hours of daylight. Make sure you pick the right one for your area.

These tips will help you grow red onions successfully. With some effort, you can enjoy a great harvest of tasty red onions.

Harvesting Red Onions as Scallions

Gardeners can harvest young red onion plants to get scallions. Also called green onions, scallions are ready just 30 days after planting. They should be 8-10 inches tall. You can eat the whole young plant, including its leaves and small bulb. They taste milder than full-grown onions.

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Picking red onions early for scallions is perfect for fresh eating. The big bulbs are best for keeping over time. This way, gardeners get to enjoy red onions in different ways all season.

If you grow onions from seeds or already started plants, you can have scallions quickly. This is a good way to have onion-flavored greens all season long.

To get scallions, cut off the green leaves and small bulb near the ground. Be careful not to hurt the rest of the plant. You can do this more than once, and the plant will keep growing new scallions.

By picking young red onions, you get to experience both their fresh and mature flavors. This smart method of growing onions offers a year-round onion solution for your kitchen.

When to Harvest Red Onions from the Garden

Timing the harvest is key if you want to store red onions. Aim to pick them between early July and late August, if they were planted using sets or transplants. For those grown from seed, harvest by early October. However, how the plant looks matters more than the date.

You can tell red onions are ready when a third of the leaves are yellow and the rest are on the ground. This means the bulb is mature. Don't water them for 3-7 days before harvest to avoid rot.

The signs that red onions are ready to pick are:

  • About a third of the leaves have turned yellow
  • The stems and leaves are laying on the ground
  • The neck of the plant has softened, signaling the bulb is fully mature

Let the onions mature fully and then cure them for 2-3 weeks to lock in their flavor and ensure they last. By doing this, you'll pick the perfect time to harvest red onions and have a great harvest.

Harvest Timing
Planting Method
Early July to Late August
Grown from Sets or Transplants
Early October
Grown from Seed
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Curing and Storing Red Onions

Keeping red onions fresh and tasty starts with the right cure and storage. First, they should be cleaned and left to dry for 2-3 weeks. This helps their skins toughen for better keeping.

After curing, cut the dried parts but keep some stem. Store the onions in mesh bags or boxes. They need cool, dark places between 45-55°F. This set-up can keep them fresh for many months.

Curing is really key for red onions because it makes their skin stronger. It helps the bulbs stay moist. Aim to cure them in a place that's about 68-82°F. You want this spot covered but well-ventilated. Research showed that cooler temperatures work just as well.

For the best storage, keep red onions in a cool, dry place. They do well at about 32°F with some humidity. But, they don't like light, so a dark area is preferable. Done right, these conditions could keep red onions good for up to a year.

These tips are great for anyone growing or using red onions. With good care, enjoy these onions long after harvesting.


Choosing the right time to harvest red onions is key. It ensures they taste great and last long. Watch for signs like yellow leaves and limp stems to know when they're ready. Early in the season, pick scallions. For storage, it's best to wait until the bulbs are fully grown.

To get the best from your red onions, plant and care for them thoughtfully. Select types that match your area, mind the sunlight and soil, and handle them carefully. This way, you can savor your homegrown onions all year round.

It doesn't matter if you're a pro or just starting out. By keeping these tips in mind, you can grow a lot of tasty red onions. They'll be perfect for feeding your family no matter the season.

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