Great crops the reward for South Australian onion growers
24 November 2022, Australia: A capacity to grow great crops of onions, in some challenging conditions, provides its own rewards for Jarryd Dolling, of Dolling Produce in the south-east region of South Australia.
“Dad’s been involved in onions for 40 years and I’m third generation,” Mr Dolling said. “I like working with a good group of people and getting great crops.”
Onions are grown at various locations in the region and are planted from April through until September.
“We will start harvesting the first week of December and push through till about first week of April, so it’s a 12-month operation now,” Mr Dolling said.
“We aim for an onion that is going to have a longer shelf life and skin retention, and a hardness and the firmness of the bulb itself. When you are standing in a crop of onions that is starting to push through into size it is quite rewarding.”
He said onions were an intensive crop but quite rewarding when they get it right.
“There’s always something that’s going to bring you unstuck for a little. You just get over one challenge, and the next one arises. It feels good once you get on top of it and change things and learn from it and make improvements.”
Downy mildew disease is of concern in onions and can cause major problems if the conditions are not right.
“Weather plays a massive role,” Mr Dolling said. “When you start seeing thunderstorms come through, you’ve got to get onto it. You need to be preventing it before you get it.”
He said incidences of the disease have caused major problems in the past with it appearing in the top of the plant and then moving down the canopy.
To counter Downy mildew, a preventative program is utilised each season and includes a range of chemistries.
Mr Dolling said Zorvec® Enicade® fungicide is used during times of high humidity and rain at different times of the season.
“When the weather conditions are pressing, Zorvec, is a good one to go to. It really protects the plant. I think it’s just its strength. Zorvec is one to fall back on.”
He said they rotate their chemistries to reduce the risk of resistance building up so that products such as Zorvec can be available in the long-term.
“We are not going over the top, but really using it in its time and place.”
He said growing onions could be nerve wracking as they watch the weather forecasts come through, however Zorvec is an option they can use to keep disease out of the paddocks.
The enterprise grows red and brown onions, with both shorter and longer season varieties used at different stages of the year.
“We use the right varieties that fit the area and growing conditions and aim at picking the right quality so they will last for a lot longer.”
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