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Onions

Onions Onions are one of the most important vegetable crops in New York State with annual sales of approximately $52 million. New York accounts for 97% of the onion production in the North Eastern United States and ranks sixth in the nation. Approximately 12,000 acres of yellow pungent cooking onions are grown from direct seed, predominantly on organically rich muck soils. This crop is stored and marketed until April. Sweet and red varieties are also grown, mostly from transplants. Hundreds of small-scale diversified farms grow onions intensively on plastic beds on less than an acre. These onions can grow very large and be lucrative in the market place where they are sold through produce auctions, farmer's markets, roadside stands and CSAs.

Continued intensive production of onions in New York has led to an array of perennial pest challenges, as well as the introduction of new pests, so that management of the onion complex in New York requires a very strategic research-based approach. Cornell Cooperative Educators and Cornell faculty work together to conduct research on many aspects of onion production in the state. Below you will find educational information and results of our research trials.

Complete Onions Content

Assessing Biocontrols for Pink Root Mitigation and Yield Impact in Onions

Ethan Grundberg, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: March 25, 2019

Thanks to the generous support of the members of the New York Onion Research and Development Program (ORDP) board, Ethan Grundberg and Amara Dunn began evaluating commercially available plant growth regulators, biostimulants, and biofungicides for potential suppression of pink root and impact on yield in transplanted bare root 'Highlander' onions during the 2018 growing season.  As discussed in the proposal for "Assessing Biocontrols for Pink Root Mitigation and Yield Impact in Onions", few conventional fungicides are labeled for pink root management in New York and even fewer are labeled for use as pre-plant dips for bare root transplanted onions.  The goal for the first year of research on this project was to screen a large number of what were broadly designed as biological products, many of which are already being used by onion growers, in order to narrow the focus of future research efforts to find solutions for managing pink root in transplanted onions. 


Onion Thrips Management Recommendations for 2018

Ethan Grundberg, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: June 7, 2018

Onion thrips populations have exceeded action thresholds in a few hot spots in Orange County. Review Dr. Brian Nault's insecticide recommendations for onion thrips management that incorporate newly registered products in New York State.


Allium Leafminer Spring Flight Update

Ethan Grundberg, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: May 31, 2018

The spring flight of the new invasive insect pest, the allium leafminer, is coming to an end. However, the larval stage of the pest will remain active for a couple of more weeks and can cause significant damage to garlic, scallions, onions, and chives. Read more about how to continue to protect your spring allium crops and how to prepare for the fall flight.


Lookout for Leek Moth

Amy Ivy, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: May 17, 2018
Lookout for Leek Moth

Leek moth adults emerge in mid April to mate and lay eggs. This year the first moths were caught in Essex on April 21.  The larvae will hatch in a couple of weeks and can do considerable damage to garlic scapes so this is a good first place to look when scouting.

Be cautious when buying and selling onion transplants between growers in the infested areas. We have seen leek moth appear in new locations when infested plants were brought in from farms to the north. 


Responding to Hailstorms 2018

Crystal Stewart, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: May 16, 2018

The fierce storm that hit much of the Eastern New York region south of Albany on Wednesday, May 15, 2018 caused tremendous wind, water, and hail damage. For growers wondering how to respond to hail damage to young plants, read more about how to best protect your crops.


Allium Leafminer Spring Flight Has Begun

Ethan Grundberg, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: May 3, 2018

The new invasive insect pest, the allium leafminer, has begun its spring flight. Adults are expected to be active for about four weeks; see what management options are available to reduce damage to your allium crops.


Be on the Lookout for Southern Blight

Ethan Grundberg, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: April 27, 2018

Southern Blight (Sclerotium rolfsii) was found on golden storage beets this winter in Dutchess County. The fungal pathogen is fairly new to New York and poses a threat to a wide range of vegetable crops. Early detection and proper diagnosis are key to managing this disease.


2018 Eastern New York Fruit & Vegetable Conference Vegetable Presentations

Last Modified: April 2, 2018
2018 Eastern New York Fruit & Vegetable Conference Vegetable Presentations

Presentations from the 2018 ENYCHP Eastern New York Fruit & Vegetable Conference held February 20th and 21st for the vegetable sections. 

Growing Alliums for Storage & Long Term Sales Resource Guide

Last Modified: February 23, 2018

Pink Root on Your Onion Transplants: To Plant or Not to Plant?

Anne Mills, Field Technician
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: April 11, 2017
Pink Root on Your Onion Transplants: To Plant or Not to Plant?

Word on the Black Dirt in Orange County is that many growers are receiving Arizona-grown onion plants that are heavily infected with pink root.

Relative Performance of Onion Fungicides

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: March 17, 2014
Relative Performance of Onion Fungicides

Botrytis leaf blight (BLB) and purple blotch (PB) are two of the most common and important leaf diseases of onions in New York. BLB is favored by cool and wet conditions, optimum: 59-65 degrees F + 12 hours leaf wetness, infection greatly reduced above 81 degrees F. PB is favored by warmer and humid conditions, optimum: 77 degrees F + 90% RH, minimum 55 degrees F; maximum 97 degrees F. Several fungicides are labeled in New York for control of both of these diseases.

To determine which fungicides were best for controlling BLB and PB in New York, head to head comparisons of the different fungicides were evaluated in four on-farm small plot trials, in Elba (2006), Sodus in (2007), Pembroke (2008) and Linwood (2008). Seven to eight weekly fungicide sprays were made per season starting in mid- to late-June using a back pack sprayer. Quantitative evaluations were made including number of BLB and PB lesions per plant, % leaf dieback, plant health ratings, yield and grade.

Responding to Hailstorms

Crystal Stewart, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: June 26, 2013
Responding to Hailstorms

While no one wants to think about the possibility of hail hitting their beautiful crops just as they start to respond to the heat and take off, the likelihood that we will see more hail seems pretty high. So let's talk about it.

Role of Adjuvants in Bacterial Diseases of Onions

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: February 26, 2013
Role of Adjuvants in Bacterial Diseases of Onions

Bacterial diseases of onions have become an increasing threat to the sustainability of the New York onion industry with losses of 40% or more occurring in some lots in some years. Recently, a New York onion grower suggested that the penetrating surfactants that Cornell entomologists strongly recommend to improve efficacy of insecticides for onion thrips control might be allowing for easy entry of bacterial pathogens into the leaves, thus increasing incidence of bacterial bulb decay.  In this study we applied adjuvants LI700, MSO, Kinetic, Dyne-Amic and HiWett in combination with bacterial pathogens of onions to onion plants to see if higher levels of bacterial bulb decay resulted with adjuvants compared to water plus bacteria.  Preliminary results indicated that a single application of adjuvant plus bacterial had no effect on bacterial bulb decay.  The effect of multiple applications of adjuvants on bacterial bulb decay warrants further research.

Spring Application of Winter Rye Grain for Weed Control in Summer Vegetables

Judson Reid, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: January 22, 2013
Spring Application of Winter Rye Grain for Weed Control in Summer Vegetables

Plasticulture production of vegetables has been widely adopted in the Northeast providing farmers with in-row weed control, soil moisture regulation and season extension. However, the bare row middles in this system require herbicide or cultivation which increase environmental impacts; impairing water quality, decreasing soil organic matter levels and increasing labor inputs. In 2012 the Cornell Vegetable Program was awarded a NESARE grant to evaluate a new use of cover crops, by sowing winter rye between plastic-mulched beds of tomatoes and onions on two cooperating farms. Both farms provided cultivation and herbicide treatments to enable us to compare weed control, yield and pest and disease impacts.

2009 Elba Muck Soil Nutrient Survey Summary

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: January 11, 2013
2009 Elba Muck Soil Nutrient Survey Summary

This is a three-part newsletter article series that describes the general nutrient status of the Elba muck land, based on a survey conducted in spring of 2009. In response to a finding that the Elba muck land was a major source of pollution into its water shed, the Oak Orchard, delivering excessive amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen, free soil nutrient tests were conducted for Elba muck land growers in hopes that they would apply nutrients according to the needs of their soils.  In total, soil samples were taken from 21 fields or blocks which were approximately 10, 25, 50 or 100 acres in size, and often consisted of several fields. Two to 20 sub-samples were taken per field/block for a total of 160 sub-samples. Samples were analyzed by the Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory (CNAL). 

All of these soil test results were summarized by Christy Hoepting, Onion Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program (CCE-VP). In addition to phosphorus and nitrogen, all information from the soil tests including organic matter, pH, potassium and micronutrients, were reviewed and opportunities for improved nutrient management for onion production suggested. It is hoped that this will mark the beginning of collaborative efforts among onion growers, CCE-VP, SWCDs and EPA to reduce nutrient loading into the Oak Orchard and other water sheds, but also to improve onion yield and profitability by optimizing nutrient management. 

Exploring the Relationship Between Nitrogen, Plant Spacing and Bacterial Disease

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: January 8, 2013
Exploring the Relationship Between Nitrogen, Plant Spacing and Bacterial Disease

It is important to emphasize that "exploring" is in the present tense. In New York, we are just beginning to delve into the fascinating relationship between nitrogen, plant spacing and bacterial diseases of onions. Our preliminary results suggest that reduced soil nitrogen and tighter plant spacing results in less bacterial decay. In this article, we report preliminary findings from exploratory studies and the observations that lead to these trials. We stress that we are not making recommendations at this time. However, we are hopeful that further studies will lead to specific recommendations.

Preventing Muck Soil Erosion by Reducing Tillage in Onion Production

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: January 7, 2013
Preventing Muck Soil Erosion by Reducing Tillage in Onion Production

The problem with using conventional tillage practices for onion production on muck soils is that it results in the subsidence of muck via wind and water erosion and oxidation of organic matter at a rate of one foot every 10 years, which is not sustainable for preserving these non-renewable natural  resources for long-term productivity. Onions are one of the most valuable vegetable crops produced in New York State with the majority of the 13,000 acres being grown on muck soil. Producing onions using conventional tillage practices results in degradation of soil health and increased subsidence.

O-zone Injury on Vegetables

Crystal Stewart, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: August 22, 2012
O-zone Injury on Vegetables

Hot, humid weather with stagnant air masses may lead to ozone damage on crops. Ozone warnings were recently issued for much of New York. These warnings are intended for people with respiratory problems and let them know they should limit their outdoor activity and try to stay as much as possible in air-conditioned locations. These warning are also a good indicator that ozone damage may occur in plants.

Leek Moth Control and Information

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: May 24, 2012
Leek Moth Control and Information

Leek Moth was detected in four home gardens in Plattsburg, NY in 2009. It was first detected in Ontario, Canada in 1997 where it has become problematic especially to small-scale, organic growers in eastern Ontario and to commercial producers in western Quebec, who have limited insecticides available to them.

Leek Moth continues its spread to more farms and gardens across the U.S., a new comprehensive website is available to aid in the identification and management of this pest. This Cornell website features maps of the distribution of leek moth, protocols on insect monitoring and identification, best management practices for farms and home gardens, a photo gallery of damage symptoms and a comprehensive resource section.

Visit the Leek Moth website.


Seed Treatments for Onion Maggot Control in Onions

Last Modified: May 24, 2012
Seed Treatments for Onion Maggot Control in Onions

New York onion growers FINALLY have not one, but TWO new seed treatment options for control of onion maggot. Sepresto® was first introduced for the 2011 growing season, but is available only on Nunhem's onion varieties. Also available for the 2012 growing season on all onion varieties is Farmore® FI500. Both of these insecticide seed treatments are only available in packages that also include fungicides. Altogether, NY onion growers now have FIVE insecticides (counting diazinon), labeled for onion maggot control. Of these, 3 are seed treatments; decisions for which one to use must be made when seed orders are placed. In making these decisions, it is important to know the relative efficacy of the insecticides, what diseases the fungicides in the seed treatment packages control and how to extend the useful life of these precious new insecticides. The information that follows addresses these questions and should assist you in making a decision on how to control maggots as well as early season seedling diseases.

Stop the Rot! - Using Cultural Practices to Manage Bacterial Diseases of Onion

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: April 2, 2012
Stop the Rot! - Using Cultural Practices to Manage Bacterial Diseases of Onion

Narrow plant spacing reduced bacterial bulb decay by 53 to 64%
Do you know how easy this is? A simple modification to adjust your planting configuration is all it would take to drastically reduce losses from bacterial bulb decay. Our studies showed that when plant spacing was reduced from 6 or 8 inches to 4 inches with 3 or 4 rows per 3-foot plastic mulch bed (row spacing: 4 rows = 6 inch; 3 rows = 8 inch), this provided 53 to 64% control of bacterial bulb decay at harvest (Table 1). Marketable yield also increased by 1.4 to 2.4 times, representing an increased net economic return of $43 to $258 per 100 feet of bed, due to increased weight of marketable jumbo-sized bulbs (Table 1). We learned that wide plant spacing produces big bushy plants with more leaves, thicker necks, delayed maturity and bigger bulbs. Unfortunately, it was these bigger bulbs that rotted! By narrowing plant spacing, we got fewer colossal-sized bulbs, which we more than made up for by having significantly more healthy jumbo-sized bulbs to market (Table 1).

Alternatives to black plastic reduced bacterial bulb decay by 59 to 75%
This is also a very simple and easy modification for small-scale growers producing onions on plastic mulch to make to their cultural practices that could go a very long way towards reducing bacterial bulb decay. Our studies showed that reflective silver mulch, biodegradable black plastic and bare ground had significantly 1.8 to 2.8 times higher marketable yield than black plastic (Table 2). Reflective silver and biodegradable black plastics had significantly 3.7 and 3.6 times, respectively, higher jumbo weight than black plastic, which resulted in an increased net return of $96 to $215 per 100 feet of bed compared to black plastic (Table 2). All of the alternatives to black plastic had significantly lower soil temperatures compared to the black plastic; we suspect that the higher temperatures of the black plastic are more favorable for development of bacterial diseases.


Fall Application of Dual Magnum for Yellow Nutsedge Control in Muck Onions

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: September 14, 2011
Fall Application of Dual Magnum for Yellow Nutsedge Control in Muck Onions

Yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus L.) pressure is very high in certain muck areas where onions are grown. It appears to have become more of a problem in recent years. Onion growers and chemical company representatives believe that applying Dual Magnum, active ingredient metalochlor, in the fall can significantly reduce nutsedge pressure the following spring. However, weed scientists across the country do not believe that fall applications of metalochlor would have any effect on nutsedge populations the following spring, because the dissipation of metolachlor, is relatively rapid, 4-7 weeks in the northern United States. Dual Magnum is labeled as a fall application in field corn and soybeans only in Iowa, Minnesota, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. For this use, there are restrictions on the label that state the date after which Dual Magnum may be applied, that soil temperature in the top 4 inches must consistently be 55°F and lower, and that tillage following incorporation must not exceed the 2-3 inch depth of incorporation.

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Garlic

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Lettuce / Leafy Greens

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Melons

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Raspberries / Blackberries

Rhubarb

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Rutabaga

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Snap Beans

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Squash - Summer

Squash - Summer

Squash- Winter

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Upcoming Events

Ag Manager Webinar Series: Ag Tax Topics - Sales Tax and Property Tax Issues for Ag in NYS

August 27, 2019
12:30 - 12:50pm

Join Liz Higgins from the CCE ENYCHP every other Tuesday at 12:30pm throughout the summer as she discusses pertinent business topics for busy farm managers.
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Willsboro Farm High Tunnel Twilight Meeting

August 27, 2019
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Willsboro, NY

Join vegetable specialists Elisabeth Hodgdon, Jud Reid, and farm manager Mike Davis for a high tunnel and field tour at Cornell's Willsboro Research Farm, where they will share research results for the following projects: 
  • Striped cucumber beetle management suing netting and row cover
  • Varietal differences in cucumber susceptibility to striped cucumber beetle
  • Ground cherry and goldenberry production in field and high tunnel environments
  • Overwintered high tunnel spinach nitrogen fertility 

view details

Announcements

Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

Biweekly Vegetable News Podcast - Episode 9 - 08/21/19

August 21, 2019
The August 21st, 2019 edition of the Eastern New York Vegetable News covers the following topics:

Changes to Worker Housing Regulations in the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act (1:25)
Managing Alternaria Leaf Spot and Head Rot on Broccoli (4:25)
Gauging Winter Squash Maturity for Harvest (10:05)
Insects in Hemp, especially European Corn Borers (18:33)
Guidance on the Dropped Covered Produce Provision of the Food Safety Modernization Act (22:53)
Cucurbit Downy Mildew Management Update (27:02)
Report from the BioControl Field Day and Weed Management Recommendations (31:07)
Day Neutral Strawberries (40:33)

Here are links to additional resources mentioned in the episode:

Current Housing Regulations for Seasonal and Migrant Farmworkers
(On January 1, 2020, these will now apply to farms housing any number of seasonal and migrant farmworkers)

Public Health Law, section 225, NYCRR Title 10 Health, Part 15, Migrant Housing: https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/nycrr/title_10/part_15/

Managing Alternaria Leaf Spot and Head Rot in Broccoli

Sue Scheufele “Can Alternaria Leaf Spot Be Managed Organically?” http://www.hort.cornell.edu/expo/proceedings/2013/Cole%20Crops/Cole%20Crops%20Scheufele%20Alternaria.pdf

Christy Hoepting “Control of Alternaria head rot in broccoli featuring exciting results from 2018 on‐farm fungicide trial” http://www.hort.cornell.edu/expo/pdf/20190115-all-day-hoepting.pdf

Dropped Covered Produce:
FDA Factsheet on Dropped Covered Produce: https://www.fda.gov/media/129568/download

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