The plant and the production of Onions

The plant of onions is an herbaceous plant, with a biennial cycle, but cultivated annually: it has surface roots, with a long stalk and an inflorescence that looks like an umbrella that produces white-yellowish flowers. The fruit of this plant, the edible part, is the bulb, that actually is a capsule covered my external tunics that form the “skin”.

The onion is a typically spring plant, as it needs a temperate climate and many hours of daily sunlight to produce fruits: however in countries with quite mild climate it can be sown and cultivated also in winter.
After sowing (this type of plant does not need to be sown in deepness and does not need much space: in fact it is enough to keep seeds at a 10 cm distance one from another) it is necessary to wait from 90 to 120 days before harvesting fruits, and start the trade of onions.

The most favourable soil for the growth and the production of onions must be rich and humid, even though not too much wet: for this reason it is extremely important to prepare the soil assigned to the cultivation of this fruit and vegetable product, avoiding water stagnations that are harmful to the plant of onion, as they may cause the bulbs of this vegetable to rot.
To have a well prepared soil, above all as to the cultivations of onions from seeds (if plantings are transplanted or if bulbs are used it is not so important to prepare the soil in the right way), a good ploughing is necessary, also using organic substances such as manure, that however must be well mature to avoid possible fungus diseases for the onion. These organic substances are a very important element, because onions need a soil rich in phosphorus and potassium. For small surfaces instead, for example a kitchen garden, it is enough to hoe the ground , to prepare the soil to the production of onions.

The sowing or the planting of onions can vary according to how this fruit and vegetable product will be used: in general for onions that will be consumed fresh, the sowing takes place in late summer or in winter, while plantings are transplanted in fall-winter. Instead, onions that are stored for a longer period are usually sown directly in the chosen area, in winter-spring. For family productions, onions are usually sown at the end of winter, or at the beginning of spring.

The major producer of onions worldwide is China, followed by India, Usa, Turkey, Russia, Japan, Egypt, Spain and the Netherlands; the production of onions in Italy is around 400,000 tons (data 2010).
The major countries producers of onion in South America are: Mexico, Brazil, Peru, (that produces mainly sweet onions, of which the demand and the export have increased), Colombia, Argentina and Chile; Chile has a production of onion that varies a lot from an year to another according to the demand of this fruit and vegetable product: from 2007 to 2009 the export of onions from Chile has constantly increased and the main countries importers of the Chilean product are Brazil, the USA and Great Britain.
The production of onions in Brazil, instead is not constant and stays around 900,000 tons from September to February: this country has a very large production of onions that are therefore exported in other countries, while during the rest of the year the production of onions decreases a lot and for this reason, Brazil becomes an importer of onions, while being an exporter in winter.
Also Argentina, thanks to the increasing demand of this fruit and vegetable product, and therefore to the possibility to export onions, has significantly increased the cultivations of onions in the last years.

As to the European Union, the major European countries producers of onions are the Netherlands, Ukraine, Spain, Poland, Germany, followed by France, Great Britain and Italy.
As to the EU countries producers of onions, form 2007 to these days, the production of onions has strongly increased, of about 6% compared to 2005-2006, reaching a total volume of 4.86 million tons of onions.
Thanks to a strong increase of the production, Ukraine has become the second major producer of onions in Europe. Also the Netherlands have seen a growth and they remain the major producer of onions in Europe.

Preventions done by producers of onions, retailers of onions and fruit and vegetable companies that produce organic onions, consist in different techniques, among which there are an adequate rotation among the different fruit and vegetable cultivations (fresh vegetables are alternated) the avoidance of water stagnation, regular and constant irrigations of the soils assigned to the production of onions and to the production of organic onions, the elimination of residuals of infected fruit and vegetable products and finally nitrogenous manures or manures done with copper products (not for companies that produce organic onions for which treatments with chemical substances are forbidden by certification regulations of the European Union).

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