How to Plant Onions in Dry Season in Zimbabwe

[Beginners Guide] How to Plant Onions in Dry Season in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a country that experiences long periods of dry weather, making it challenging for farmers to grow crops. However, with the right techniques and knowledge, planting onions during the dry season can be a successful venture.

Onions are an essential ingredient in most meals, and planting them during the dry season can be a lucrative business opportunity.

If you want to plant onions in Zimbabwe’s dry season, you need to take certain steps to ensure a successful crop. Start by preparing your soil with a mixture of organic matter, such as compost or manure, and a balanced fertilizer. Make sure the soil is well-drained, and water it regularly until the seedlings have established themselves. Plant the onion seedlings at least 4 inches apart, and provide them with plenty of sunlight. Water the seedlings every few days, and keep the soil moist. The onions should be ready to harvest within 4-6 weeks.

In this article, we will discuss the necessary steps to take when planting onions during the dry season in Zimbabwe. These steps will help farmers to overcome the challenges that come with planting in a dry season and ensure a healthy onion harvest.

How to Plant Onions in Dry Season in Zimbabwe

Onions are a staple crop in Zimbabwe, and planting them in the dry season requires careful planning and preparation. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to plant onions in the dry season in Zimbabwe.

Step 1: Soil Preparation

Before planting onions, it is essential to prepare the soil properly. Onions thrive in well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. To start, remove any unwanted plants or rubbish from the designated spot where you intend to plant.

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Then, till the soil to a depth of at least 15 cm to loosen it and break up any clumps. Next, incorporate well-rotted manure or compost into the soil to improve its fertility.

Step 2: Select High-Quality Onion Varieties

Choosing the right onion variety is crucial for a successful harvest. In Zimbabwe, some of the popular onion varieties include Red Creole, Texas Grano, and Sweet Spanish. When selecting onion varieties, consider their resistance to diseases, size, and flavor.

Step 3: Planting Onions

Onions are usually planted using seeds or bulbs. For dry season planting, it is advisable to use onion bulbs because they have a higher chance of success in hot and dry conditions.

Plant the bulbs 5 cm deep and 10 cm apart in rows that are 30 cm apart. Cover the bulbs with soil and firm the soil around them.

Step 4: Watering Onions

Onions require consistent and adequate moisture to grow well, especially during the dry season when water is scarce.

Proper irrigation is essential to ensure the onions receive enough water to produce high-quality bulbs. Here are some important factors to consider when irrigating onions:

Onions should be watered deeply at least once a week. This ensures that the moisture penetrates the soil to a depth of at least six inches, where the onion roots can access it.

If the weather is particularly hot or dry, watering twice a week may be necessary to keep the soil moist. There are several irrigation methods that you can use to water onions, including drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, and furrow irrigation.

Step 5: Fertilizing Application

Fertilizing onions is an essential step in promoting their healthy growth and development. Onions require a nutrient-rich soil that is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Nitrogen is the most crucial nutrient for onion growth as it promotes the development of green leaves and large bulbs.

The recommended fertilizer for onions is a nitrogen-rich fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate or urea.

These fertilizers provide the necessary nitrogen required for the development of onion bulbs. It is essential to apply fertilizers regularly, ideally every four weeks, to ensure that the onions have a constant supply of nutrients.

Step 6: Pest and Disease Control

Onions are vulnerable to several pests and diseases that can significantly reduce yield and quality. Some of the common pests that affect onions include onion thrips, onion maggots, and cutworms.

In addition to pests, onions are also susceptible to various diseases, including white rot, pink root, and downy mildew.

To control these pests and diseases, it is essential to take preventive measures such as crop rotation, using disease-resistant onion varieties, and proper sanitation.

In addition to preventive measures, applying organic pesticides and fungicides is also crucial in controlling pests and diseases.

Organic pesticides such as neem oil, garlic oil, and pyrethrin are effective in controlling onion pests such as thrips, maggots, and cutworms.

Fungicides such as copper-based fungicides and sulfur-based fungicides can be used to control fungal diseases such as white rot and downy mildew.

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It is essential to follow the instructions on the label when applying pesticides and fungicides to ensure that they are used safely and effectively.

Step 7: Harvesting Onions

Onions are ready for harvesting when the leaves turn yellow and dry up. Gently lift the bulbs out of the soil, brush off any excess dirt, and let them dry in the sun for a few days. Keep the onions in an area that is cool, dry, and has good air circulation.

Benefits of Planting Onions in Dry Season

  1. Higher yields: Onions planted in the dry season tend to produce higher yields due to the absence of excessive rainfall and waterlogging that can affect the crop’s growth.
  2. Better quality: With less moisture in the soil, onions grown in the dry season tend to have a better flavor and aroma, making them more desirable to consumers.
  3. Increased market value: Onions are often in high demand during the dry season, making them more profitable for farmers who can meet this demand.
  4. Lower disease and pest incidence: Diseases and pests that affect onions are less common in the dry season due to the lower humidity and moisture levels.

Challenges of Planting Onions in Dry Season

  1. Water scarcity: The most significant challenge in planting onions during the dry season is the lack of adequate water for irrigation. This can result in stunted growth, lower yields, and even crop failure.
  2. High temperature: The high temperatures during the dry season can cause heat stress in the plants, resulting in reduced growth and productivity.
  3. Weeds: Weed growth can be rampant during the dry season, competing with the onions for nutrients and water, and reducing yields.

Best Practices Of Planting Onions In Dry Season

  1. Soil preparation: The soil should be well-drained and fertile, with adequate organic matter to retain moisture.
  2. Irrigation: Regular irrigation is critical to ensure the onions have sufficient water for growth and development. Drip irrigation is recommended to reduce water wastage.
  3. Fertilization: The crop should be fertilized adequately to ensure optimal growth and yield.
  4. Weed control: Weeds should be controlled regularly to prevent them from competing with the onions for nutrients and water.

Common Diseases And Pests Of Onion Plants

  1. Onion Thrips: These tiny insects feed on the leaves and can cause significant damage to the crop.
  2. Downy Mildew: This fungal disease causes yellowing and wilting of the leaves and can lead to stunted growth and reduced yield.
  3. Botrytis Blight: This disease causes the leaves to develop brown spots, leading to rotting of the bulbs.

How Much Are Onions Sold In Zimbabwe

The price of onions in Zimbabwe varies depending on the season and location. On average, a kilogram of onions can cost between $1 and $3 USD.

Is Onion Farming Profitable In Zimbabwe

Onion farming can be profitable in Zimbabwe, especially if proper practices are implemented, and the crop is grown during the dry season when demand is high. However, it can also be challenging due to the high cost of inputs and water scarcity.

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Varieties Of Onions In Zimbabwe

The most common onion varieties grown in Zimbabwe are Red Creole, Texas Grano, and Valencia.

Best Time To Plant Onions In Zimbabwe

The best time to plant onions in Zimbabwe is between May and August, during the dry season when irrigation is easier to manage. Planting should be timed to coincide with the start of the rainy season to ensure optimal growth and yield.

Step By Step Onion Farming PDF

Step 1: Land Preparation

Prepare the soil by ploughing, harrowing, and levelling the land. The ideal soil pH for onions is between 6.0 and 6.8.

Step 2: Seedling Preparation

Onion seeds are sown in a nursery bed, and the seedlings are transplanted to the main field after 45-50 days.

Step 3: Planting

Transplant seedlings to the main field, spacing them 15-20 cm apart in rows 30-45 cm apart.

Step 4: Irrigation

Onions require regular watering, especially during the first 30 days after transplanting.

Step 5: Fertilizer Application

Apply nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizers at the rate of 50:50:50 kg/ha.

Step 6: Weed Control

Control weeds by using a combination of manual and chemical methods.

Step 7: Pest and Disease Control

Prevent and control pests and diseases by using appropriate pesticides and fungicides.

Step 8: Harvesting

Harvest onions when the leaves turn yellow and start to fall over. Allow the bulbs to dry in the field for a few days before harvesting.

How Many Onion Plants per Hectare

The recommended onion plant density per hectare varies depending on the variety and the spacing used. On average, 250,000 to 350,000 plants can be planted per hectare.

Onion Seed Rate per Hectare

The seed rate per hectare also varies depending on the variety and the spacing used. On average, 3 to 4 kg of seeds are required to plant one hectare.

Onion Production

Onion production depends on various factors such as soil type, climate, variety, and management practices. On average, an onion farmer can produce 15 to 20 tonnes of onions per hectare.

Onion Seed Rate per Kg

The seed rate per kg also varies depending on the variety and the size of the seeds. On average, 300 to 400 grams of onion seeds are required to plant one hectare.

How Many Onion Plants Per Square Metre

The recommended onion plant density per square meter also varies depending on the variety and the spacing used. On average, 40 to 60 plants can be planted per square meter.

How To Grow Onions From Seed Pdf

Step 1 – Seedling Preparation

Sow onion seeds in a nursery bed, and transplant seedlings to the main field after 45-50 days.

Step 2 – Planting

Transplant seedlings to the main field, spacing them 15-20 cm apart in rows 30-45 cm apart.

Step 3 – Irrigation

Onions require regular watering, especially during the first 30 days after transplanting.

Step 4 – Fertilizer Application

Apply nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizers at the rate of 50:50:50 kg/ha.

Step 5 – Weed Control

Control weeds by using a combination of manual and chemical methods.

Step 6 – Pest and Disease Control

Prevent and control pests and diseases by using appropriate pesticides and fungicides.

Step 7 – Harvesting

Harvest onions when the leaves turn yellow and start to fall over. Allow the bulbs to dry in the field for a few days before harvesting.

How Many Onion Plants Per Acre

The recommended onion plant density per acre varies depending on the variety and the spacing used. On average, 62,000 to 87,000 plants can be planted per acre.

Conclusion

Planting onions in Zimbabwe during the dry season can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible. The key is to choose the right variety of onion, prepare the soil properly, and provide sufficient water and nutrients. With proper planning and care, farmers can successfully grow onions and increase their yields even in the face of a dry season.

Author: David

David is a Kenyan farmer from the rural village of Nairobi. Growing up, he was surrounded by the beauty of the Kenyan countryside, which sparked his passion for farming. After completing his education, he decided to pursue a career in agriculture and has since dedicated his life to providing food for his local community. David is an experienced farmer and is experienced in a range of agricultural practices, including crop rotation, animal husbandry and soil management. He is passionate about promoting sustainable agriculture and is actively working to reduce food insecurity in his community.

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