The Dirty Work: Red Onion Case Study

Nov 13, 2013

BioFlora® was founded in 1972 with a goal to conceptualize, develop, manufacture, market, and deliver a proprietary product line to the agricultural community. Through our innovative products and programs, we provide solutions to our customers in both domestic and international markets. Today, we have over 30 unique proprietary products that benefit growers, retailers and consumers alike. Our organic and sustainable agricultural programs maximize the efficacy and efficiency of traditional agricultural inputs, while being mindful of their environmental impact.

The Onion

The dry onion is a very popular vegetable grown throughout the world for its pungent bulbs and flavorful leaves. There are a variety of culitvars ranging in flavor and colors that vary from red, brown, yellow, and white. Dry onions can be grown on any fertile, well-drained, non-crusting soil, though alkaline soils are preferred for maximum growth.

Dry onions utilize substantial amounts of nutrients, so a common problem faced by growers is over fertilization. This can lead to more complicated issues such as soft bulbs, susceptibility to disease and environmental damage.

Sclerotinia Sclerotorium is a plant pathogenic fungus that can cause a disease called white mold. Sclerotinia sclerotorium can also be known as cottony rot, water soft rot, stem rot, drop, crow rot and blossom blight. A key characteristic of this pathogen is its ability to product black resting structures known as “sclerotia” and white fuzzy growths of mycelium on the plant it infects. This pathogen can occur on many continents and has a wide host range of plants it will infect. When incidence of Sclerotinia sclerotorium is noticed, losses can be severe and quick action should be taken.

Our Field Trial

To assist farmers with the growing problem of disease presence, BioFlora® conducted a field trial to determine if the addition of Humega® to a conventional fertilizer program would help to reduce the incidence of the disease Sclerotinia sclerotorium on Red Star and Burgese onions.

Humega® is our biologically active humic acid, which facilitates soil tilth and boosts microbial activity. Creating a diverse and well populated soil ecology with beneficial microorganisms to help limit the spread of soil-borne plant pathogens.

Our Method

In this trial, the BioFlora® test field was irrigated with Humega® prior to planting. Following this, four subsequent applications of Humega® were added to the drench irrigation system every two weeks. Rates of Humega® varied per individual application based on disease evaluation.

Our Results

The control field had a high infestation rate of Sclerotinia sclerotorium which affected over 70% of its production.

The BioFlora® field on the other hand only had an infestation rate of 0.008% of Sclerotinia Sclerotorium.

red onion bunch

BioFlora® field with no visible infestation of the plant disease Sclerotinia sclerotorium.

red onion roots

Control field, with visible infestation of the plant disease Sclerotinia sclerotorium.

Sustainable BioFlora® Program

In order to achieve even greater results while reducing NPK fertilizers, BioFlora® suggests Humega® be used with:

BioFlora Seaweed Creme®: should be applied at the planting of transplants and seeding to help develop a stronger root system.

BioFlora® 6-0-0 + 8% Ca: should be used at each irrigation cycle for the last two months of fertilization to strengthen the onion bulb.

BioFlora® 0-0-25: should be applied 45-60 days before harvest to prevent soft centers.