An Onion Experiment - The Reveal
This past spring, I decided to do a little experiment with onions. I had read in a local seed catalogue that onions sown in April would grow larger than those seeded in February, which is when they are traditionally sown around here. I was intrigued by this statement and quite skeptical, to say the least, so I decided to put it to the test.
I chose to use Copra's in my experiment as I have grown them for several years and normally seed a larger quantity of them compared to other varieties since they store incredibly well.
|Copra Onions (2014)|
To test out the timing, I sowed one third of the Copras on February 8, one third on March 9 and one third on April 4. The remaining varieties - this year I grew Rossa di Milano, Wethersfield Red, Jaune Paille des Vertus, Ailsa Craig, Patterson & Red Wing - were all sown in March. Yes - I'm sort of an onion junkie. I keep adding new varieties but can't seem to get rid of those that I've already tried 🙄.
Fast forward to April 30. Imagine my surprise when I transplanted the onions and realized that the April sown Copras didn't look all that different from the February sown ones.
|Arrows point to the rows containing the February vs April sowings|
Three weeks later: Had the rows not been labeled, I would have been hard pressed to tell you which was recently seeded and which was seeded months ago. In the photo below, the April seeding is to the left of the red line, the February is on the right.
Left: April sowing
Right: February sowing
Here we are, at the end of August, and time is up. So what did I find?? Drum roll please.....
|From left to right: February, March, April sowings|
Here is February and April, side by side:
|Left - April; Right - February|
|Copra bulb seeded in February|
Setting aside the March sowing, when I'm comparing the February and April sowings, everything (including the containers I sowed them in) was the same so it's truly an apples to apples comparison.
Bottom Line: The average bulb size looks more or less the same for the February and April sowings. Is my mouth dropping open again? Why yes, it is 😉
I'm going to reserve final judgment until after the onions are cured and weighed but I have to say that I'm more than a little optimistic that I'll be sowing my onions in April from now on (and using cell packs, not plug sheets!). What a difference this will make, both in freeing up space under the grow lights in February & March and eliminating a full 2 months of coddling onion seedlings. My, my...this is all rather exciting!