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The Great Onion Fail


​The leading onion producers of the world are China, India and the US[1] with India having the largest area cover under onions (13 lakh hectares) with a yield of around 17 tonnes per hectare[2]. But still in Nov 2019, Govt. of India approved import of 1.2 lakh metric tonnes of onion to manage the retail price hike of onions which touched Rs 180 per kg[3] from Rs 12-15 per kg. Why this price hike? Where did we go wrong? Let us understand few things before we find out the “why?” Ideal conditions for growing onion Onion is a temperate crop which requires a mild, gentle weather which is ideal for its growth. However, it can withstand extreme weather conditions at the budding stage. The crop needs lower temperature and shorter day light (photoperiod) for vegetative growth while during the period of bulb development and maturity it needs a higher temperature and longer day light. The temperature required for growing onions during vegetative phase is 130C-240C and 160C to 250C at the bulb phase. Relative humidity of 70% along with avg. annual rainfall of 650-750mm is also ideal condition for its growth. The crop grows in heavy, clayey and sandy loam soil. However, red to black loamy soil with good drainage capacity is ideal for onion cultivation. Soil with neutral pH (6.0 to 7.0) is also optimal for onion cultivation. It also cannot tolerate alkalinity where pH is beyond 7.5 or below 6.0[4]