Growing onions, the universal vegetable (I)


Onions (Allium cepa L.) are very old vegetables that have been used for thousands of years. They’re kitchen staple and play a role in a great number of recipes.

Onions are regularly asked by the people at a good market rate and can be easily sold throughout the whole year. These vegetables are the most commonly consumed vegetable in Nigeria. In fact, Nigeria is reportedly one of the largest producers of onions in the world with over 2 million tonnes produced annually.

There are different varieties of onions. These include the red, white and yellow onions. The red is the popular one in the country and it is of great commercial value for farmers that cultivate it.

Although many farmers are involved in the cultivation of red onions there is still a shortfall in meeting the demand of the Nigerian market especially during the rainy season.

If you desire to grow the onions, then you need to understand the following.


The soil must be fertile and well drained. It can be sandy or loamy with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Organic matter can be added prior to planting to improve the soil as well as to increase crop yield.

The land can be prepared by ploughing 6 to 7 times to make it soft. Usually, the organic manure is added at the final plough.

A good land preparation in onion cultivation may multiply the yield many times and it also tells us about the suitability of soils for growing onions.


The planting of onions is done with seeds or setts. Onions are usually cultivated in November or December and it takes about 3 to 4 months to reach maturity. Due to the climate in the Northern part of the country, 100% of the onions consumed in Nigeria are produced in North.

The planting is done on ridges; and furrows should be created to ensure ease when carrying out post planting activities Onion sets should be planted 4 inches apart from each other in rows 12 inches apart.


Tractors working on an onions farm.

If you plant onion sets, the sets may be identified only as white, red, or yellow, rather than by variety name. Most growers prefer white sets for green onions.

Growing onions from seed offers one a wide variety of choice. The only disadvantage is that you have to wait up to 5 months for the onions to mature.

If you plant onion sets, the sets may be identified only as white, red, or yellow, rather than by variety name.


Onion farming can be done over a wide variety of soil including sandy loam soils to clayed loam soils with the facility of good drainage. However, red loam soils to black soils, sandy loam soils, with good organic content are considered as the best suitable for onion farming for optimum production.

It also requires deep friable soil having soil pH ranging from 5.5 to 7.0 for better production. Adding organic matter at the time of land preparation is beneficial in increasing the production of bulbs in onion cultivation.

Soils need to be well structured and fertile to maximize growth and produce high yields.

Seedbed condition is critical, particularly if crops are being grown from seed. A fine, consolidated seed zone is required for maximum germination and good establishment…

To be continue…

Source: AgroNigeria