Onions: Harvest, Curing, Storage

Curing onions for later use is something everyone that grows onions can and should do. Different varieties can be stored for longer than others though, but wether you grow red, white, or yellow, proper treatment after harvest will prevent rotting and give you fresh tasty onions well into winter.


Harvest onions when the tops have died back, bent over, or disappeared.

Harvest onions when the weather is dry. This will help cut down on post-harvest diseases that cause rot.

Leave the tops in place until curing is complete.

Be careful not to bruise onions during harvest, by tossing them around. Bruised areas are prime entry for pathogens, and uncured onions are extremely fragile and easily bruised.


Ideal conditions for curing are at 70% humidity, between 68-86 degrees fahrenheit, for at least 24 hours up to 6 weeks.

Locations for curing onions can be in the field, in a greenhouse, on a garage floor or covered porch, or any warm, dry spot. You can also braid the onions while curing them using any of the remaining leaves.

Try to keep the onions from touching and give them a turn once in a while.

Curing is complete when the neck is completely dry and tight. If the neck remains open it allows entry of pathogens such as Botrytis neck rot.

Leave 2-3 inches of the neck on, if possible.  This distance makes it harder for any pathogens to enter the onion.


For maximum storage limit exposure to light after curing is complete.  Sunlight will induce greening of the outer scales.

Leave 2-3 inches of the neck on, if possible.  This distance makes it harder for any pathogens to enter the onion. Otherwise you can trim down the neck and the roots.

Remove any onions that have begun to rot.  One bad one can spread disease and moisture to the others.

The optimum temperature for long-term storage of onions is 32°F with 65-70% relative humidity, but it is important to bring them down to this temperature slowly. You can bring them down to this temperature by leaving them in a shed or barn until cold weather sets in and then moving them to winter storage at that time.

Store onions in baskets no more than 3 onions deep, in boxes with good air circulation, on orchard racks, or hang them in nylons with knots between each onion.

To find locally grown onions, and other farm fresh food, check out Pick-A-Pepper.com!

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