1. Agriculture World

Kerala Agri University's Efforts to Cultivate Big Onion Pays Off

Over 95% of plants showed good bulb formation 82-90 days after sowing. The average bulb weight was 60-100 grammes, yielding 22 tonnes per hectare. Kanthaloor serves as a crossroads for tropical, subtropical, and temperate crops like hill garlic, hairloom beans, and even commercial strawberries.

Shivam Dwivedi
Cultivation of Big Onion at Kanthalloor, Idukki District, Kerala
Cultivation of Big Onion at Kanthalloor, Idukki District, Kerala

Kerala Agricultural University's efforts to cultivate onions in the rain-shadow region of Kanthaloor, known for cool season fruits and vegetables, have begun to bear fruit. Kanthalloor is located in Kerala's Idukki district, in the Devikulam taluk.

Over 95% of plants showed good bulb formation 82-90 days after sowing. The average bulb weight was 60-100 grammes, yielding 22 tonnes per hectare. Kanthaloor serves as a crossroads for tropical, subtropical, and temperate crops like hill garlic, hairloom beans, and even commercial strawberries.

KAU began research three years ago to assess the potential of cultivating onions on a commercial scale in Kanthalloor hills, based on the demand of farmers and other extension officers in the region.

However, determining the optimal cropping season and production practices to raise the crop economically at a high altitude of 1,000-1,500m above MSL posed a challenge (mean sea level).

After three years of collaborative work with farmers, researchers identified February-July as the optimal season for onion cultivation in Kanthaloor dry hills. Farmers from four different locations—Keezhanthoor, Vettukad, Kanthaloor, and upper Perumala- took part in the evaluation trials of 12 different varieties.

The crop was first grown by supplying seedlings raised in the plains to teach farmers about the plant's growth, management, bulbing, and primary post-harvest handling. Farmers began to raise the seeds on their own in the open field in mid-February, transplant seedlings in mid-April, and harvest them by the middle of July after two years of constant supply.

Grama Panchayath president PT Mohandas inaugurated the harvest festival in Kanthalloor and Keezhanthoor.

Farmers say the crop is simple to manage and only requires four or five irrigations because of the intermittent rains. The large white onion bulbs were a particular attraction, and they also produced a good yield. Farmers in Kanthalloor are now actively considering big onions as an additional option in their basket of options.

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