Where Do Your Onion Plants Come From?


“I am writing regarding Sweet as Candy onion plants. I have found that they are not keeping as well as the Candy Hybrid onions I had in the past and the red ones just don’t look like the picture. I bought my plants onions from J.W. Jung and they never looked good all summer.  when I called to complain that they had not had as good of quality as in the past, I was told that they had problems with the onions in their fields and were not able to dig them as early. I know Wisconsin had a very late spring. The red onions are quite strong and I am wondering if the late digging in Wisconsin caused the strong taste and storage problems. You mentioned that you buy your onion plants from Texas, but you live in the Midwest? I live in Minnesota, but I only buy from companies that are in my area. Wouldn’t your onions be sensitive to our colder temperatures?

2014 Onions

2014 Onions 2

Sincerely,
Janet in New York Mills, MN”

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Hi Janet,

Thank you for your question regarding your onions.  I want to clarify for my readers that the “Sweet as Candy” onions is an offer at J.W. Jung’s that includes both Candy and Red Candy Apple Onions.

First thing, let me correct you on one thing.  The onion plants you purchased last year did not grow originally in Wisconsin… or anywhere close for that matter.

The onion plants that J.W. Jung’s and all of the other mail order seed catalogs in this country sell come from one place:  Dixondale Farms in Carizzo Springs, Texas.  They are the nation’s onion vender when it comes to onion plants.  While the customer service operator at Jung’s may have indicated that your onions were grown there, that would be an outright lie.

The onion plants that you receive in the spring are grown through the winter months in Texas.  In order to have a plant that is viable, green(ish), and ready for you to pop in the ground, there is no other place where they could grow.  If your plants had been grown in the Midwest, they would be dormant and look mostly dead.

In Spring 2014, Dixondale had a very good year.  However, my guess is that J.W. Jung’s did not.  Due to the lateness of the spring, they undoubtedly received their shipments in of onions in January in preparation for sending out to their southern customers.  By the time you finally had warm weather that was good for planting, the onion plants you received had likely been out of the ground for 3-4 months.  Not only would that decrease their vigor and longevity, but the molds and diseases they likely would have picked up during that time would have undoubtedly added to issues too.

In addition to affecting the long-term storage quality of your onions down the road, it looks like your Candy Onions are suffering from Neck Rot.  This could have been picked up in the garden if they were damaged by insects or when they were bound in the spring awaiting purchase.

Also, that doesn’t look like a Red Candy Apple Onion.  Looks more like a Cippolini onion.  Just saying…

 

As for where you buy your items from, that is a grey area.  While you think you are purchasing your seed and nursery stock from a place in the Midwest, the truth is that most seed and nursery companies source in their products from vendors.  The vendor could have grown that item anywhere in the world.  With hybrids, they are often developed to be able to grow well no matter where they are grown — kind of the cookie-cutter approach to gardening.  If you are truly concerned about where your source seed and nursery stock is grown, I recommend looking into resources like Seed Savers Exchange (where you know the person that really, truly grew the item and can give you the full history on it) or purchase from local nurseries that have the actual plants growing out back of the building in the ground so you can see that it is truly good for your area.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 thoughts on “Where Do Your Onion Plants Come From?

  1. Very interesting. Kind of seconded what I was already thinking about the Red Candy Onions, because they are supposed to be huge. Does Dixondale Farms sell to just seed catalogs or could I buy from them?

    • Yes, they sell to home gardeners. Actually, it is much cheaper to buy directly from them than a mail order seed company. The more you buy, the less it is per bundle, and shipping is free. You can find their website at:
      http://www.dixondalefarms.com/

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