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onion white rot

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I was given a few red onions late autumn and grew them over winter, ready for a June/July harvest. Some of them are looking smashing, huge great things. Some of the smaller ones tho are in a bad way - I noticed yesterday that one had fallen over, out of the ground and I spotted some onion white rot - and the same on one I pulled out today just as I was going home from the allotment.

Sadly, my allotment onion growing days are pretty much over already, as there's little point in losing out every year but I was wondering if the larger onions if seem ok are alright to dry and eat later? Or am I being too fussy?! I am going to go on Sunday and pull the lot up and see if any are ok. I think I read somewhere that I can just air dry them - can I do that indoors as we are due more rainy days here down in Essex over the next week. I kinda like the idea of keeping them out of my garden as I may have a go at growing them at home next time and wouldn't want to give the white rot any opportunity to get in my garden.  Any tips be gratefully received!



  • LoganLogan Posts: 2,532
    Hi blighty mam onions don't like the wet so try growing in the spring and put some cover them over with a cloch or something and make the ground more draining by putting in grit.You can dry them in doors they should be alright to eat but I'm not sure if they will store for long.One year I lost all my autumn onion sets because I didn't cover them.
  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,617

    I think that once you have onion white rot that it's pretty much game over for quite a few years. I have been growing onions for a couple of years on my allotment and noticed straight from the first crop that I had what I suspected was onion white rot. I have persisted to grow them on a different piece of ground but still notice that some of the onions have got white rot, I bought one home the other day and tried to dry it out but noticed that rather than getting dryer it was oozing some kind of liquid so I discarded it. I would suspect that some of the crop will be ok as that was the case last year but I would suspect that eventually it will become impossible to grow onions on my allotment because of the white rot. I am wondering if it would be worth constructing a raised bed with imported topsoil as an onion bed.

  • LoganLogan Posts: 2,532
    Barry island ,you could try that
  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,617

    The annoying thing is that even though my allotment plot hadn't been cultivated for several years before I took it over the white rot was in the soil, although I do believe that it can be imported on boots or tools so even with a raised bed the spoors could be transferred from the old soil into the new.

  • me londonme london Posts: 119

    Cheers guys.. Yeah, I was just going to throw away the ones that obviously had white rot. I'll try drying any healthy ones indoors and growing them at home next year. 

    Barry, I read that it's in the soil for about 15-20 years, so I suspect your plot should've been unused for a long time to get rid! Mine was empty for two until I took over last autumn. I also read that it's pretty much in all allotments in this country image   Such a shame.

  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,617

    I lifted all of my winter planted onions today and out of getting on for 40 only six look ok, some were typically small and loose but many were big and well rooted but on inspection had tell tale white fungus at the base and were soft to the touch. I have a couple of rows of spring planted onions still in the ground so I will see what they turn out to be like although I think that the onion moth has attacked some of those, I sometimes ask myself is it really worth it.

  • me londonme london Posts: 119

    Sorry to hear that Barry... it's frustrating for sure. I'm not going to bother this winter, or any onions again at the allotment.  I've not checked the ones I've pulled out properly yet (other than throw away the obviously bad ones) but I think I lost about 2/3rds, possibly more.

    Talking to an allotment friend, and she said she was told to boil up garlic and pour the solution onto the ground, the thinking is that the fungus comes up to the top and dies off - having nothing to settle on. I thought it sounded sweet, but a pile of rubbish tbh. Reading that it's a huge problem worldwide, am sure if the solution was that simple, we'd have little rot by now. Oh well, just thought I'd put it out there!

  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,617

    Yes I read that the fungus or whatever it is can lie in the soil for 20 years or more and as soon as onions are planted chemicals are released into the soil and the fungus comes to life, the fungus can be transported from one place to another on tools, boots or even in water to infect another place. Apparently it doesn't do well in places where onions can be grown in dry constant temperatures above 20c so that rules out the UK. Of course the conditions which I grew my overwintering onions in didn't help the soil being on the heavy side so I guess the onion rot was bound to strike. I have grown some leeks to be transplanted into the allotment when space becomes available so I will still give them a go but from now on I think that I will be giving anything from the allium family a miss. 

  • I too have white rot, try growing onions in a container with just compost.

    I will be trying this next year as I am pulling onions up now to dry out because of the white rot. The ones with white rot I burn and the good ones just dry.

  • cornellycornelly Posts: 968

    All our overwinter onions all went to seed, did use a few as salad onions but most were too full of the hard stem, it is the first time ever, I have grown overwinter onions for many years and none before have gone to seed.

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