Some onions store well.

Storage onions generally have several tight wrapper scales and a tight neck.To get the proper shape, onions must be carefully spaced when they are planted from seed, and then protected from disease and pests. Plants spaced too widely produce larger bulbs but are likely to develop thick necks. Thick necks are difficult to cure and don't store well.  

Onions love the long, sunny days of summer.

When the number of daylight hours reaches a certain level, onion plants start forming bulbs. Eastern Washington has traditionally grown firm, relatively dark-skinned, globe-shaped onions well suited for storage. Our long, northern-hemisphere, summer days are just perfect for growing beautiful onions. 

Harvesting the crop of storage onions

Harvest involves lifting the bulbs which is typically accomplished with a machine that severs the root system several inches below the onion bulb. Onions are then left on the soil surface to dry, usually for 7 to 10 days, after which they may be topped and piled in rows. Mechanical loaders deliver bulbs into trucks for transport to storage.

Onion country.

Onions in the Columbia Basin are generally grown once every three or four years on a farm, rotating in between years with carrots, sweet corn, cereals, and potatoes. It takes lots of skill and experience to grow onions successfully, but Washington ranks third in the country in onion production.  Of the fresh market onions exported to the Pacific Rim, almost all will be processed at their destination markets.  Premium processing onions become frozen onion rings and lesser grades become chopped products.

"Life is like an onion, You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep." Carl Sandburg, American poet.

Some onions are eaten fresh.

Delicate Walla Walla Sweet Onions are harvested by hand in the Walla Walla River Valley.

The sulfur in onions releases a gas when they are cut. It rises up and gets into your eyes making them red and watery. But sweet onion varieties have less sulfur. It turns out that the soil in the Walla Walla Valley is also low in sulfur. This low sulfur content is what makes them so mild. But if you want to be comfortable chopping all varieties of onions, click here for instructions.

These recipes combine onions with other Washington crops.