Onion-(Rabi Onion )
Botanical Name- Allium cepa
Family - Alliaceae

  • Onion is most widely cultivated popular vegetable species.
  • It is used for culinary purpose also it has several non-culinary use like it is used as Moth repellent because of its pungent juice, it is used to polish glass and copperware, onion concentrated water can be spray on plants to increased plants pest resistance.
  • India ranks first in term of area and second in production after China.


1)PRO 6:

  • Medium heighted variety with deep red, medium-large and round bulb.
  • Ready to harvest in 120 days after transplanting.
  • Gives average yield of 175 qtl/acre.
  • Bulbs have good keeping quality.

2)Punjab Naroya:

  • Medium heighted variety with deep red, medium-large and round bulb.
  • Ready to harvest in 145 days after transplanting.
  • Gives average yield of 150 qtl/acre.
  • It is tolerant to purple blotch disease.

    3)Punjab White
  • Medium large, round and white variety. Gives average yield of 135 qtl/acre.

    Other state varieties:

1) Bhima Kiran:

  • Suitable for growing in rabi season.
  • Bulbs are of light red color and having round to oval shapes.
  • Ready to harvest in 130 days.
  • Bulbs having good keeping quality in storage.
  • Gives average yield of 165 qtl/acre.

2)Bhima Shakti:

  • Suitable for growing in kharif and rabi season.
  • Ready to harvest in 130 days after transplanting, gives average yield of 170 qtl/acre.

3)Bhima Shweta: 

  • Suitable for rabi season.
  • Bulbs are of white color and round in shape.
  • Ready to harvest in 110-115 days after transplanting.
  • Gives average yield of 160 qtl/acre. 

    4)Early Grano:
  • Developed by IARI, New Delhi. Bulbs are of yellow color.
  • Suitable for cultivation in kharif as well as rabi season.
  • Gives average yield of 200 qtl/acre


  • It can be cultivated on various soil types such as sandy loam, clay loam silt loam and heavy soils.
  • It gives best result when grown in deep loam and alluvial soils with good drainage, moisture holding capacity and sufficient organic matter.
  • Loose and sandy soils are not suitable for cultivation as bulb produce in such soil are deformed with less keeping quality. pH of soil should be 6 to 7.

Climate –

  • The optimum temperature for vegetative phase and bulb development is 13-24˚C and 16-25˚C, respectively.
  • It requires about 70% relative humidity for good growth. 


  • Optimum time for raising nursery is middle of October to middle of November month.
  • Seedlings are ready for transplantation in middle of December to Middle of January month.
  • For transplanting, select 10-15 cm heighted healthy seedlings.

Seed rate of 4-5 kg is sufficient for raising seedling required for one acre land.

  • Seed Treatment
  • Seed treatment with Thiram@2 gm/kg of seed + Benomyl 50WP@1 gm/liter water effectively controls damping off and smut diseases.
  • After chemical treatment, seed treatment with bio agent Trichoderma viride @2 gm/kg of seed is recommended, it help in reducing early seedling diseases and soil borne inoculum.
  • This is the most common method practised for irrigated crop as it results in high yield and large size bulbs.
  • In plains, seeds are sown during October-November for a rabi crop.
  • In hills, seeds are sown from March to June. Seeds are first sown in well prepared nursery beds of 90-120 cm width, 7.5-10.0 cm height and convenient length.
  • Ratio between nursery area and main field is about 1:20.
  • Seedlings of 15 cm height and 0.8 cm neck diameter are ideal for transplanting and this is achieved in 8 weeks.
  • However, it varies from 6-10 weeks depending on soil, climate and receipt of rain. There is a practice of topping seedlings at the time of transplanting if seedlings are over-grown.

To get higher yield, while transplanting, use spacing of 15 cm between rows and 7.5 cm between plants.
Sowing Depth

In nursery, sow seeds at depth of 1-2 cm.

Method of sowing
For sowing use transplanting method.

  • Before transplanting, field should be ploughed and disked properly to eliminate debris and soil clods.
  • Organic manures equivalent to 75 kg N/ha (approximately FYM 15 t/ha or poultry manure 7.5 t/ha or vermi-compost 7.5 t/ha) should be incorporated at the time of last ploughing and beds with appropriate size should be prepared after levelling. 
  • Mostly, flat beds of the size 1.5-2.0 m width and 4-6 m length are formed. However, flat beds should be avoided to prevent water logging during the Kharif or rainy season. 
  • Water logging favours Anthracnose disease which is most devastating during Kharif season.
  • Broad bed furrows (BBF) of 15 cm height and 120 cm top width with 45 cm furrow are formed to achieve proper spacing and population density. 
  • It is suitable for drip and sprinkler irrigation as well.
  • BBF is the best method for Kharif onion production because the excess water can be drained out through the furrow. This improves the aeration and helps in reducing the incidence of Anthracnose disease.
  • Irrigation requirement of onion depends upon the season, soil type, method of irrigation and age of the crop.
  • In general, onion needs irrigation at the time of transplanting, three days after transplanting and subsequently at a 7-10 days interval depending upon the soil moisture.
  • In general, Kharif crop needs 5-8 irrigations, the late Kharif crop requires 10-12 and the Rabi crop needs 12-15 irrigations.
  • Onion being a shallow rooted crop, needs frequent light irrigation to maintain optimum soil moisture for proper growth and bulb development.
  • Irrigation needs to be stopped when the crop attains maturity (10-15 days before harvest) and the top starts falling which helps in reducing the rotting during storage.


  • Apply 20 tonnes of Farm Yard Manure or well decomposed cow dung 10 days before sowing.
  • Apply Nitrogen@40 kg, Phophorus@20 kg and Potash@20 kg in form of Urea@90 kg, Single Super Phosphate@125 kg per acre and MOP@35 kg/acre.
  • Apply whole quantity of Phosphorus, Potash and half dose of Nitrogen at time of transplanting.
  • Apply remaining amount of nitrogen as top dressing, four weeks after transplantation.
  •  10-15 days after transplanting, sprayed 19:19:19 along with micronutrients@2.5 to 3 gm/Ltr of water.
  • Fertigation is an effective and efficient method of applying fertilizers through drip irrigation which is used as the carrier and distributor of irrigation water and crop nutrients. 
  • Application of fertilisers @ NPK 40:40:60 kg /ha as basal and the remaining 70 kg N in seven splits through drip irrigation is recommended for achieving higher marketable bulb yield and cost benefit ratio. 
  • The drip irrigation system not only helps in water saving but also reduces nitrogen losses by leaching into groundwater, as in fertigation, fertilizer nutrients are applied in the root zone only.
  • Initially onion seedlings grow slowly. So it is better to use chemical herbicides than hand weeding to avoid injury.
  • To control weeds take spray of Pendimethalin(Stomp)@1 ltr/200 ltr water/acre within 72 hours of sowing. Apply Oxyfluorfen @425 ml/200 ltr of water per acre as post emergence herbicide 7 days after planting.
  • Two to three weeding are recommended for weed control. First hand weeding should be done one month after sowing and second hand weeding to be done one month after first hand weeding.
  • Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in proximity.
  • The most common goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land by making effective use of resources without affecting the yield of the main crop.
  • Onion crop is best suited for intercrop with paired row planting of sugarcane (Nov.-Dec. Planting) under drip irrigation system.
  • Ridges and furrows of 90 cm distance need to be prepared for planting sugar cane.
  • Sugarcane sets with the single bud need to be planted at 30 cm apart in the bottom of the ridges. After every two rows of sugarcane, flat bed of 180 cm needs to be prepared for planting onion crops.
  • Onion seedlings should be planted at time of sugarcane planting. Additional fertilizer nutrients required for onion crop need to be calculated and applied as per requirement.
  • Onion crop can be harvested after 120 DAT(Days after transplanting). Sugarcane-onion intercropping system with drip irrigation saves 25-30% water.

1. Nitrogen-


Deficiency Symptoms


  • Leaves become yellowish green erect and upright curled, wilted and dwarf. 
  • At maturity the tissue above the bulbs become soft.

Correction Measure

  • Foliar spray of Urea 1% or DAP 2% twice at weekly intervals.



Deficiency Symptoms

  • Slow growth, maturity   blazed. 
  • Leaf colour becomes light green and bulbs have few dried outer peals. 
  • Tip burn in older leaves.

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of DAP 2% twice at fortnightly intervals



Deficiency Symptoms

Tip burn symptoms, leaves become dark green and erect.  Bolting promoted.  Older leaves  become yellow and necrotic.

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of K2SO4 1% twice at weekly intervals.



Deficiency Symptoms

Occurence of chlorosis;

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of CaCl2@1%



Deficiency Symptoms

  • Irregular elliptical shaped areas on leaves. 
  • The leaf tips slow white colour

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of MgSO4 0.5% twice at weekly interval



Deficiency Symptoms

Yellowing of young leaves

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of MgSO4



Deficiency Symptoms-

  • Scales become this and pale yellow colour.  
  • The bulbs lack firmness and solidity and early maturation leaves slow tip burn with Chlorate mottling.

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of CuSO4 0.3% twice at weekly interval.



Deficiency Symptoms

Complete yellowing of young leaves

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of FeSO4@0.5%



Deficiency Symptoms

Leaves show tip burn, light coloured and curling.  Growth restricted.  Bulbing delayed with thick necks.

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of MnSO4@ 0.3% twice at fortnightly interval.

10. Molybdenum


Deficiency Symptoms

Terminal leaf become curling; yellowing of leaves

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of sodium molybdate@0.2%



Deficiency Symptoms

Growth restricted.  Leaves yellow colour strips and bend.

Correction Measure

Foliar spray of ZnSO4 0.5% twice at nightly interval.




Control measures



(Thrips tabaci)

Thrips know their onions | Agronomist & Arable Farmer

1. Thrips infestation at the early stage (transplanting to 45 days) can be identified by curling and twisting of leaves
2. Typical symptom of onion thrips is the presence of white or silvery patches on the leaves
3. In severe infestation, whole plant looks blemished and turns white.

4.Thrips favor hot and dry weather

1. Planting of two rows of maize or one outer row of maize and one inner row of wheat as a barrier crop surrounding onion crop (250 sq. m) at least 30 days prior to transplanting helps block the movement of adult thrips

2. Spray insecticide when thrips population crosses the economic threshold level of 30 thrips/plant

3. Foliar spray of insecticides like Profenofos  (0.1%), Carbosulfan (0.2%) or Fipronil (0.1%) depending upon the severity  of infestation


2.Eriophyid mite

mites on onion beltsville 1962 - USDA Onion Lab

1. Leaves do not open completely. Whole plant shows curling.

2. Yellow mottling is seen mostly on the edges of the leaves.

3.Humidity is the most important factor in determining whether a house has high levels of mites.

1.Spray Dicofol (0.2%) as soon as the symptoms appear in the field. Repeat the spray after 15 days, if necessary.

2. Foliar spray of sulphur @ 0.05%


1.Purple bloch (Alternaria  porri)

purple blotch (Alternaria porri ) on garden onion (Allium cepa ) - 5364058

1. Initially small, elliptical lesions or spots that often turn purplish-brown which are surrounded by chlorotic margin.

 2. If the spots enlarge, chlorotic margin extend above and below the actual lesion. Lesions usually girdle leaves, causing them to fall over. Lesions may also start at the tips of older leaves.

3.Hot and humid climate with temperature ranging from 21-30°C and high relative humidity (80-90%) favour the development of the disease.

Spay fungicides, Mancozeb @ 0.25% / Tricyclazole @ 0.1% / Hexaconazole  @ 0.1% /Propiconazole @ 0.1% at 10-15 days intervals from 30 days after transplanting or as soon as disease appears


2.Stemphylium blight (Stemphylium vesicarium)

Onion Stemphylium Leaf Blight - UW Vegetable Pathology - UW-Madison

1. Small yellow to orange flecks or streaks develop in the middle of the leaf which soon develop into elongated, spindle shaped to ovate elongate diffused spots surrounded by characteristic pinkish margin. 

2. The spots progress from the tip to the base of the leaves.   The spots coalesce into extended patches, blighting the leaves and gradually the entire foliage.

3.Warm (18-25°C) humid conditions and long periods of leaf wetness (16 hours or more) favour disease development.

Spay fungicides, Mancozeb @ 0.25% / Tricyclazole @ 0.1% / Hexaconazole  @ 0.1% /Propiconazole @ 0.1% at 10-15 days interval from 30 days after transplanting or as soon as disease appears


3.Anthracnose/Twister Disease (Colletotrichum gleosporiodes)

Onion Anthracnose | Vegetable Disease Facts

1. The characteristic symptoms are curling, twisting, chlorosis of the leaves, and abnormal elongation of the neck (false stem).

2. Initially pale yellow water soaked oval sunken lesions appear on leaf blades. Numerous black coloured slightly raised structures are produced in the central portion, which may be arranged in concentric rings.  The affected leaves shrivel, droop down and finally wither.

3.Disease is most severe in warm [25-30°C], moist soils that are high in organic matter.Fungal growth rapidly decreases below 15°C, resulting in little disease development.

1. Soil treatment with Benomyl @ 0.2%

2. Foliar Spray of Mancozeb @ 0.25%

3. Planting onion on the raised bed

4. Avoid water logging


4.Damping off disease

Fusarium damping-off (Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cepae)

1. Seedlings topple over after they emerge from the soil.  It usually occurs at or below the ground level and infected tissues appear soft and water soaked

2.High soil moisture and moderate temperature along with high humidity leads to the development of the disease.

1. Planting onion on the raised bed

2. Seed treatment with Thiram or Captan @ 0.3%.

3. Drenching the nursery beds by Captan or Thiram @ 0.2% or Carbendazim @ 0.1% or Copper oxychloride @ 0.3%

Viral diseases

5.Irish Yellow Spot Virus (IYSV)

iris yellow spot virus (IYSV) (Tospovirus Iris yellow spot virus ) on ...

Symptoms first appear as straw-coloured, dry, tan, spindle or diamond-shaped lesions, with or without distinct green centers with yellow or tan borders on leaves. The symptoms are more pronounced on flower stalks. Infected leaves and stalks lodge during the latter part of the growing season.

1. Plant high quality transplants free from thrips and Iris yellow spot virus.

2. Practice three years or longer rotation between onion crops.

 3. Eliminate volunteers, culls, and weeds in and around onion fields.

4. Avoid crop stress.

5. Thrips control may provide some reduction in iris yellow spot, but thrips control alone is not sufficient to economically control the disease


6.Onion yellow dwarf virus (OYDV)

Onion yellow dwarf virus on shallots | Vegetable Pathology - Long ...

Mild chlorotic stripes to bright yellow stripes, mosaic, curling of leaves and stunted growth

1. Use virus free planting material

2. Use resistant cultivars

3. Aphid control will reduce the incidence of OYDV which is a vector for OYDV

4. Foliar spray of insecticides like Profenofos @ 0.1%, Carbosulfan (0.2%) or Fipronil (0.1%) for controlling Aphids


1.Basal Rot: Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cepae


  • A moderate temperature of 22-28°C favours disease development.
  • The leaves turn yellow and then dry up slowly.
  • The affected plant shows drying of leaf tip downwards.


  • Growers must follow crop rotation and harvested bulbs must be thoroughly cured to reduce potential storage losses.
  • Onions are very sensitive to low soil copper levels. In order to optimize crop production and disease susceptibility, additional soil copper fertility may be needed especially on mucky and sandy soils.
  • Soil drenching with Copper oxychloride 0.25 %.

2.Downy mildew: Peronospora destructor


  • White downy growth appears on the surface of the leaves.
  • Finally the infected leaves are dried up.
  • Downy mildew grows best at 20 °C to 24 °C but it can grow at other temperatures too


  • Three spraying with Mancozeb 0.2 % is effective.
  • Spraying should be started 20 days after transplanting and repeated at a 10-12 days interval.

3. Leaf Blight (Blast): Botrytis spp.


  • Botrytis is the major disease of onions in cool climate areas.
  • Light infections do not affect yields but heavy infections causing major yield reductions can occur.


  • Bulb treatment with Captan /Thiram 0.25%
  • Spraying of Maneb or Mancozeb or Chlorothalonil.
  • Fungicides may be applied every 5 – 7 days for disease control.

4.Pythium root rot: Pythium aphanidermatum, P. debaryanum and P. ultimum


  • This diseases causes seed rotting, pre-emergence damping off. The disease appears in circular patches in the field here and there.
  • All the affected plants get killed. If the disease occurs prior to seed germination, it causes gappiness..


  • Seed treatment with Thiram or Captan @ 4g/kg. The bulbs may be dipped in Thiram solution 0.25%.
  • After sprouting, the root region of the plants along the rows should be given a soil drenching with Copper oxychloride 0.25%.

5 Smut: Urocystis cepulae


  • Black smut sori are seen at the base of the leaves and leaf surface.
  • Black powdery mass is seen after rupturing the sorus wall.
  • The disease occurs in areas where temperature remains below 30°C.


  • Seed treatment with Thiram or Captan @ 4g/kg.
  • The bulbs may be dipped in Thiram solution 0.25%

6.White Rot: Sclerotium cepivorum


  • This disease is most severe in cool and dry soils.
  • The leaves become yellow and die-back and when the plants are pulled up, roots are found to be rotten and the base of the bulb is covered with a white or grey fungal growth.
  • Later, numerous small black spherical sclerotia are produced. The bulb of the onion completely rots.


  • Crop rotation and clean seed are the only effective controls.
  • Heavy manuring with organic manures reduces the disease in the crop. Seed dressing with Benomyl, Carbendazim or Thiophanate-methyl (100 to 150 g/kg seed) gives effective control.

7.Purple blotch: Alternaria porri


  • Hot and humid climate with temperature ranging from 21-30°C and relative humidity (80-90%) favour the development of the disease.
  • This disease occurs mainly at the top of the leaves, the infection starts with whitish minute dots on the leaves with irregular chlorotic areas on the tip portion of the leaves


  • Disease free bulb should be selected for planting
  • Seeds should be treated with Thiram @ 4 g/kg seed.
  • The field should be well drained.
  • Three foliar sprayings with Copper oxychloride 0.25 % or Chlorothalonil 0.2 % or Zineb 0.2 % or Mancozeb 0.2 %.
  • Harvesting at proper time is necessary.
  • It depend upon variety, season, market price etc.
  • 50% neck falls is sign indicating crop is ready for harvesting.
  • Harvesting is done manually by uprooting bulbs.
  • After harvesting they are kept in field for 2-3 days to remove excessive moisture from bulb.

After harvesting and proper drying, bulbs are sorted and graded according to size.

  • Growing two rows of maize as barrier crops around field border
  • Selection of healthy onion seed bulbs
  • Bulb treatment with Pseudomonas fluorescens @ 5 g/kg + Trichoderma asperellum @ 5 g/kg
  • Soil application of P. fluorescens @ 1.25 kg/ha + T. asperellum @ 1.25 kg/ha + VAM Fungi @ 12.5 kg/ha + Azophos @ 4kg/ha + neem cake @ 250 kg/ha
  • Installation of yellow sticky traps at 12 numbers / ha for thrips and leaf miner trapping
  • Installation of pheromone traps at 12 numbers /ha for cut worm (S. litura)
    Spray application of P.fluorescens @ 5 g/l + Beauveria bassiana @10 g/l on 30 days after planting
  • Spray application of azadairachtin 1% @ 2 ml/l on 40 days after planting
     Need based application of dimethoate @ 2 ml/l for thrips / leaf miner / cut worm management
  • Need based application of tebuconazole @ 1.5 ml/l or mancozeb @ 2 g/l or zineb @ 2g/l for purple blotch disease management.

Spray Cycocel @ 200 ppm + carbendazim @ 1000 ppm 30 days before harvest to
extend the shelf life of onion.

Yield is 12-16 t/ha in 70 to 90 days.

18 t/ha in 90 days for CO (On) 5 onion. Clean and
dry the bulbs for 4 days in shade soon after harvest.


Onion is an important commodity required throughout the year. So, storage of onion bulbs is essential for round the year supply. The bulbs harvested from Rabi season have better storage life than Kharif and late Kharif onion. 

The storage life of onion depends on various parameters like season, variety, bulb dormancy, nutrient and irrigation management, pest and disease incidence, pre-and post-harvest management practices and storage environment. 

Normally, light red onions varieties such as N-2-4-1, Bhima Kiran, Bhima Shakti, Arka Niketan and Agrifound Light Red are having more storage potential than dark red, white and yellow varieties. 

Field curing should be done till the foliage turns yellow and necks become thin followed by a shade curing with adequate ventilation.  

  • Shade curing of bulbs protects the bulbs from sun scalding, improves the bulb colour and keeps the outer surface scale dry. 
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight also causes sloughing of the outer scales (baldness), sunburn and excessive shrinkage of the onion. 
  • Medium size bulbs (50-80 mm) free from cuts and bruises are recommended for storage.
    Bulbs need to be stored in 40-50 kg jute (hessian) bags, gunny bags, plastic netted bags or plastic and wooden baskets for better storage.
  • Most of the farmers are using plastic/nylon netted bags for domestic as well as export purpose because these bags are more economical, easily available and attractive.
  • After packing, onion bulbs should be stacked in a storage structure up to 5 feet height for easy handling

Performance of Bhima Light Red at farmers’ fields in Nandurbar

Bhima Light Red is a high yielding onion variety with good bulb storability developed by the ICAR-DOGR, Pune has become a success story in Maharashtra and adjoining states. This variety had been recommended at national level in 7th Annual Group Meeting of AINPORG held at CSAU&T, Kanpur (UP) during 4-5 April, 2016 for rabi season for cultivation in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and notified by CVRC vide Notification No. S.O. 261 (E) dated 16th January 2018. It is also registered with PPV&FRA, New Delhi vide registration number 261 of 2020 for its protection. The salient features of Bhima Light Red are erect, vigorous in growth with dark green foliage. Bulbs are light red with globe shape, average bulb weight 60-80 g, thin neck, TSS 12.5-13.50 Brix and almost free from doubles and bolters. Average yield 36-40 t/ha in rabi. It matures in 110-120 days after transplanting and uniform neck fall during rabi. Bulb attains immediate attractive light red colour after harvest. Better in bulb storage quality and bulbs stored up to 5-6 months. It is also field tolerant to thrips and foliar diseases.

Mr. Raju Budhaji Goykar, a group leader of tribal farmers of Jai Bajrang Shetkari Bachat Gat, Aaslipada, Navapur, Nandurbar, Maharashtra had raised onion bulb crop as per ICAR-DOGR recommended technologies and produced 170 q per acre marketable bulb yield and earned net income of Rs. 1,62,500/- per acre even when onion bulbs were sold at the rate of Rs. 12.50/- per kg. Mr. Mansingh Yamaya Valvi, a group leader of tribal farmers of Yaha Shetkari Gat, Sonpada, Navapur, Nandurbar, Maharashtra had raised onion bulb crop as per ICAR-DOGR recommended technologies and produced 182 q per acre marketable bulb yield and earned net income of Rs. 1,59,300/- per acre even when onion bulbs were sold at the rate of Rs. 11.50/- per kg. Whereas, Mrs. Sunita Subhash Gavit, a tribal lady farmer of Saraswati Mahila Bachat Gat, Palipada, Navapur, Nandurbar, Maharashtra had raised onion bulb crop as per ICAR-DOGR recommended technologies and produced 195 q per acre marketable bulb yield and earned net income of Rs. 1,56,700/- per acre even when onion bulbs were sold at the rate of Rs. 10.60/- per kg during rabi 2021-22.

Several field demonstrations have been conducted in different parts of the country on onion bulb and seed production of Bhima Light Red including more than 140 field demonstrations under tribal belts of Nandurbar and Pune of Maharashtra and farmers were benefited because Bhima Light Red was found best for bulb storage up to six months during rabi. Hence, farmers have shown interest in this variety and ICAR-DOGR had already sold 4.17 q seed of Bhima Light Red. This variety is now grown over 24000 acres in different states including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. 

Most of the farmers are often earning a net profit of more than Rs. 80,000-90,000/- per acre by cultivating Bhima Light Red.