Information from Dave Rietveld provided by reader Kenneth:
You seem to know a lot about the onion set biz. You indeed are right, short-day sets are indeed a well kept secret. One of the reasons they are not readily available for the home gardner is that they lack shelf-life after they are milled.
You seem to know a lot about the onion set biz. You indeed are right, short-day sets are indeed a well kept secret. One of the reasons they are not readily available for the home gardner is that they lack shelf-life after they are milled. I am not associated with DVG any longer, and have instead gone on to pursue other avenues in the specialized equipment business (for onions) but still keep my fingers in the onion set business. As we have grown older, and hopefully more wiser, we have come to learn that sets grown in the Midwest are usually carriers of a host of onion diseases that not only are soil borne, but air borne as well. Consequently, I have been growing all of my sets out west where the disease environment is minimal. I pioneered the commercial planting of short-day sets over 15 yrs ago and have learned that some varieties work quite well, while others seem to fail. Identifying the proper varietie(s) is crucial, especially if you are a commercial grower. We have some growing right now in the Rio Grande Valley and they look fantastic. Mechanical planting is the clincher for the commercial grower, since properly graded sets lend themselves to that practice. We have some growers that can plant 50+ acres/day with minimal labor. Compared to slips this is a huge benefit. We are sold out of sets currently and wont have any until late summer (’11). Thanks for the historical updates. I never knew what farms lay in close to Chicago, much less in the Roseland area. 111th street reminds me of Evers Office Supply, of who the owners moved to So Holland and became close family friends. They later moved out to the Oak Lawn area just off of Cicero and are now don’t even exist. I moved to Colorado 3 yrs ago already. Well over 85% of the onions are grown west of the Mississippi River, so this is the place to be. The whole environment is more conducive to onion production. Keep up the good work…I will have to visit your area sometime.
Response from Pat:
Thanks for the great information. Now I know why home gardeners can’t get sets of short-day onions but I now also know that short-day onion sets can be and are grown but just don’t keep well enough to ship to nurseries.
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