Mid to late October is the time to plant seed of the "Bermuda"
When you label an onion as a "Bermuda," you really
haven't said much. The general term "Bermuda" usually
refers to the white or red onion used on hamburgers. Actually,
the white "Bermuda" onion is the Crystal Wax variety
and the red "Bermuda" onion is the Burgundy Red Variety.
The general term "Bermuda" is nomenclature inherited
by onions, which at one time were propagated on the Bermuda
Islands. This procedure was followed only to enhance seed production
and did not signify any specific quality factors.
Even the super sweet, eat?it?like?an?apple, Grano 502 variety
is a Bermuda type. The Grano 502 has become one of the most
beloved home garden onion varieties in this area. However, its
progeny is much more famous. Texans know the offspring of the
elliptical shaped Grano 502 as the disc?shaped Granex. However,
the Texas Granex has gained most notoriety when referred to
as the Vidalia onion from Georgia. Texas producers are growing
the same onion, which is just as sweet if not sweeter than the
Vidalia, yet many times have to plow the crop under because
of poor market prices while the Georgians get rich. The power
of advertising and suggestion pays off! Yet once something is
touted as "the best", there is always an effort to
better "the best". Texas A&M has bettered the
Texas A&M onion breeders have produced a better, i.e.,
sweeter, larger, more disease?resistant, onion named Texas A&M
Supersweet or 1015Y, which stands for the October 15 planting
date and Yellow onion. Supersweet has been judged the mildest
and sweetest when competing against the Vidalia, Maui (Hawaiian
onion) and California Imperial Sweet onions.
Plant seed now. Seeds can be sown directly into the garden,
covered with 1/4 inch of soil and should sprout within 7 to
10 days. If planted thickly, plants can be pulled and utilized
as green onions or scallions for salads or fresh eating in 8
to 10 weeks. However, most gardeners want to grow an onion bulb
as large as a basketball. To do this, the onion plants must
be thinned by next February until they are at least 2 to 3 inches
apart to insure adequate bulb expansion. The removed plants
can be used for scallions or for transplanting into another
area of the garden so that these, too, will have adequate space
in which to enlarge into large bulbs.
Fertilization of onion plants is vital to success. Texas A&M
research findings indicate that onion growth and yield can be
greatly enhanced by banding phosphorus 2 to 3 inches below seed
at planting time. This phosphorus acts as a starter solution
that invigorates the growth of young seedlings. Banding phosphorus,
such as super phosphate (0?20?0), 2 to 3 inches below the seed
involves making a trench 3 inches deep, distributing 1/2 cup
of super phosphate per 10 row feet, covering the phosphate with
soil, sowing seed and covering lightly with one?half inch or
less of soil. Once established, onion plants should receive
additional amounts of fertilizer (10?10?5, 15?10?10) as a side?dress
application every month.
Gardeners who tend to procrastinate should be warned that
planting later than October could mean failure. Failure in onion
production comes in two forms—complete annihilation of
the young seedlings during a cold winter, or an abundance of
spring onion flowers which decrease bulb size, weight and storage
ability. Onion plants that are small and rapidly growing when
the cold temperatures of winter arrive will probably not survive.
Yet, if you plant earlier and the stem of onion plants are larger
than a pencil when exposed to cold temperatures, the onion will
initiate and produce a flower during the following spring. This
flowering is termed as bolting. Bolting requires low temperatures.
Most rapid bolting is the result of temperatures between 40
to 45 degrees F. or below. Fall seeded crops are susceptible
to bolting the following spring if warm fall temperatures, allowing
excessive growth, are followed by low winter temperatures and
Many gardeners believe that early removal of the onion flower
stalk will cause onion bulb enlargement but this has not proven
to be the case. Flowering causes a decrease in bulb size as
well as a central flower stalk which enhances decay during storage.
This is exactly what will happen to those who are planting onion
transplants or sets now with the hope of large onions next spring.
The onion bulbs which produce a flower stalk may be large but
they will be light?weight (1/2 the weight of a comparable size,
non?flowered onion bulb) and prone to decay. Obviously, what
you see is not always what you get!
So, for a surefire onion success, begin planting now to insure
that you have plenty of those sweet stinkers to enjoy next June.
The best way to insure success is to either plant the onion
seed from now until November 15, or plant transplants from January
For more information about growing onions, which varieties
to use and the history of sweet onion development in the U.S.,