The EASY and HARD of Saving Onion Seed

Saving onion seeds is as EASY as popping those sprouting onions into the ground and letting them put on green leaves that turn into flowers, which in turn become seeds.

And saving onion seed is as HARD as the amount of rain you get. 

All that moisture and maybe hail and harsh winds can spread disease through your onion fields in the course of a weekend. 

And your onion seed crops are susceptible to all the same diseases. 

Not all onion diseases spread by contaminated seed, but when you’ve got onion problems, you rarely have just one. Onion diseases love to stack. And one of those stacked diseases will likely be seed-borne and pass on to the next generation.

If you want to grow onion seed in a wet climate, you should grow your onion seed  in a tunnel or greenhouse.

Onions are CROSSERS.

They are in the Allium cepa species and will happily cross with other Cepas like french shallots (if they produce any flowers) and some green bunching onions varieties (though they won’t cross with all bunching onions – many bunching onions (those that never form bulbs) are allium fistolusum, which generally do not cross with allium cepa.)

Leeks do not cross with onions. Leeks are Allium ampeloprasum.

So if your climate isn’t too wet and you’ve got good storage facilities to store onions through the winter. Onions are good for #seedsavingformarketgrowers.

Maybe not for your first seed crop. But once your seed toes are wet, onions can be a good choice. 

The PROS of saving Onion seed:

  • Easy to grow extra in your market garden and choose the best for seed
  • There are some great open pollinated varieties
  • Pretty easy to store onions through the winter

The CONS of saving Onion seed:

  • BIENNIAL- you need to get these plants to year 2
  • Crossers – only grow one variety for seed at a time
  • Prefers dry climates – oniont seed does not thrive in humid climates, a tunnel or greenhouse can help offset that.
  • Short seed life – good for 2 years, maybe 3 years if you’ve got great seed quality

YIELD:

4lbs to 7lbs from a 100ft bed

SEED LIFE:

2 years


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