WHAT ARE ONIONS?
Onions are bulbs. The bulb is formed of hollow leaves, thickened
into 1.5 to 5mm fleshy layers which overlap. Bulb skins are yellow,
white or red and range in size from 6 to 14cm in diameter.
WHERE ARE ONIONS PRODUCED IN BC?
Onions are grown in the Okanagan Valley, in the Lower Mainland
and on Vancouver Island.
HOW MANY ONIONS DO WE PRODUCE?
BC grows about 6 million kilograms of onions. This is 5% of all
the onions grown in Canada.
HOW ARE ONIONS PRODUCED?
Seeds are planted in mid-August, for over-winter onions, or in
mid-April for spring-seeded onions. Seeding is done with a precision
seeder. Seed is drilled to a depth a 2.5cm. A precision seeder
allows the seed to be planted a uniform distance apart. This helps
produce an even-sized crop with higher yield and fewer culls. Onions
are shallow-rooted and need a constant supply of moisture. Once
onions reach their mature size they are harvested by machine.
WHAT DOES AN ONION LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Most onions are grown to a mature size before they are used.
Others are harvested when they are small and both the green tops and
small bulbs are used, often in salads. Onions are used primarily as
a condiment, or a seasoning for food. They are added to soups,
stews, saucesand stir fries. Some of the milder onions are eaten raw
in salads. Onions are a common addition to pickles and relishes.
Onions contain vitamin A and C, phosphorus and potassium.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE ONIONS LEAVE THE FARM?
Before onions can be put into storage they must be cured. Curing
is the process of allowing the onion to dry thoroughly. Onions are
lifted by a mechanical digger and left to dry on the field. This
usually takes 2 weeks. An onion is cured when its neck is tight and
its outer scales are dry. Cured onions are harvested into bulk
trucks and transferred to temperature and humidity controlled
storages. It is important not to store other fruits or vegetables
near onions or they may pick up the characteristic smell of onions.
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE ONION PRODUCER FACE?
Onion production is subject to a wide array of pests. One of the
problems that onion growers face is from the onion maggot. Small,
grayish flies lay eggs at the base of plants. These larvae, called
maggots, feed in the onion bulbs. They can kill young plants or
cause misshapen bulbs and rotting. Growers use Integrated Pest
Management to control this pest. If onion maggots are suspected,
growers can monitor for the flies using white sticky traps which
have proven effective in detecting the onion maggot fly. Only if a
certain threshold level is reached, as determined through
monitoring, do growers use insecticidal sprays. Growers also face
the challenge of competition from the large production areas in the
western U.S and the Prairies.
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING ONIONS?
- Onion farmer
- Agri-business suppliers (pesticides, fertilizer, fuel)
- Seed supplier
- Farm machinery supplier
1 medium onion (148g)
||Calories from Fat 0
||% Daily Value*
|Total Fat 0g
|Saturated Fat 0g
|Total Carbohydrate 14g
|Dietary Fibre 3g
|Vitamin A 0%
||Vitamin C 20%
|*Percent Daily Values are based
on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Interesting Fact About Onions:
The distinctive, pungent flavour of onions comes from
sulphurous, volatile oils contained in the vegetable.
- Contacts and other resources:
BCMAL - Field Vegetable Information
- BC Vegetable Marketing
- InfoBasket: Your Portal to Agri-Food Information on the Internet