I’ve had a few people contact me about wet onions recently including an email from Mr Lewis who sent photos of his wet onions. He asked: “Wonder if you can help with a problem on our allotment and problem with are onions,they seem wet under the skins”
This is a problem we’ve had ourselves this year – a very poor crop. I’m sure the problem is due to the awful wet weather we had in July and August. Once the bulbs have finished swelling, onions don’t need a lot of water. Just enough to keep them alive, not the torrential downpours we had.
Ideally the onions will react to the hot, dry weather of summer and utilise the moisture in bulb to survive. Normally we partially lift the bulbs, breaking the roots, a couple of weeks or so prior to harvest. This further helps the bulbs dry out.
Wet Weather – Wet Onions
Unfortunately this year the dry period was a monsoon. The onions just absorbed more water than is good for them or us. Very wet bulbs will not store and most of the crop will rot in short order. I’m afraid they’re practically beyond drying out.
In hindsight, where we always get it right, the answer is to prevent the onions from getting too much water in the late stage of growth. Easier said than done. I do say in the page on How to Grow Onions
One caveat for onion growers is to not overwater them. They are shallow-rooted and once established they do not need much water. They also do not compete well with weeds at any time, particularly when young. In years of heavy rainfall, they appreciate a clear, protective cover to keep soil a little drier.
One last point on onions, the smaller onions are easier to dry out than the larger onions. You can, to some degree, control the size of the bulbs by spacing. Spacing at 4” or 10cm apart in the row or even a little less will be more likely to result in good onions for store in a wet year than larger spaced, bigger bulbs.