The questions below result in a composite score ranging from 0 to 100. A score of 0 indicates 'do not plant the crop', while a score of 100 would indicate 'there is absolutely no reason not to plant the crop'. There will be few instances of a score of 100. The icon(s) shown next to each question is meant to serve as a resource for producers relevant to each specified question shown. The questions below are intended to show red flag type concerns.
1. Onions prefer growing locations that drain well, lack soil compaction, are rich in organic matter, supply good water infiltration and moisture-holding capacity, provide air drainage and offer full sun. Also, the soil pH level should range from 6.2 to 6.8. Do you have a suitable site with these characteristics?
2. Onions lack well-developed root systems, so irrigation is important, particularly after transplanting and when bulbs are expanding. Do you have access to irrigation water, and are you willing to invest in the infrastructure and management required for irrigating onions?
3. Weed management is a priority when growing onions because the plants lack well-developed root systems and don’t grow tops capable of shading the soil and reducing weed competition. To control weeds, are you willing to invest in practices such as plasticulture, applying herbicides, using mechanical cultivation and/or removing weeds by hand?
4. Post-harvest, onions must cure. Preferably, the curing site will provide temperatures between 75°F and 80°F, good air circulation and relative humidity levels that range from 70 percent to 80 percent. Do you have a suitable location for curing onions?
5. Onions that have a pungent flavor can be stored for later sales and will require proper storage conditions. Sweet onions, in contrast, have a relatively short shelf life — less than one month — and should be sold before they lose their quality. Do you have ready access to proper storage if growing pungent onions or access to a market that will purchase onions before they lose their quality?