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How to plant and grow red onions in Uganda

Growing red onions is as easy as any other type of onion grown in Uganda. Bulb Onion is one of the most widely grown & consumed vegetables in Uganda. All onions are biennials, meaning they take two years to complete their life cycle. In the first year the seed grows, forming modified leaves and tiny underground bulbs.

  • It is a biennial plant but considered an annual because it is harvested in its first growing stage
  • It is a profitable crop. However, it requires a lot of labour during transplanting and weeding
  • It is an important spice for foods when cooked or served raw
  • It is rich in Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Vitamin B6 & B9, Vitamin E and has medicinal properties

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Varieties of Red Onions you should know about

There are a number of red onions in Uganda. Some of these include B Red Creole, Bombay Red, Red Star, Neptune, Texas Grano and Tropicana.

How do you plant and grow Red Onions?

Red Onion growing will require the following for you to get the best results;

  • Altitude: 0 – 1,900 meters above sea level
  • Rainfall: 500 – 700 mm of rainfall annually
  • Growing Temperature: 15 – 30 0C
  • Soils: Fertile and well-drained soil. Soil pH ranging between 6.0 – 6.8

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Red onions seeds are first planted in a nursery bed. They are not planted in the main garden. So, if you are going to start planting red onions, then you should prepare a seed bed or nursery bed first.

  1. Transplant seedlings

Seedlings are transplanted from the seedbed 6 – 8 weeks after sowing or at 3-5 well formed leaves when base is pencil thick.
The seedlings are transplanted in 2.5 – 3 cm deep trenches at a spacing of 30 cm between rows and 8 – 10 cm between plants.

Transplanting Method
Soil analysis results should be used to determine the nutrient requirements of the soil prior to planting

  1. Irrigate the seedbed prior to pulling out the seedlings
  2. Apply 80 kg/acre of TSP
  3. Irrigate field well a day before transplanting
  4. Carefully pull out the seedlings to avoid damage
  5. Cut off 50 per cent of the green tops to hasten take off
  6. When planting onion sets, don’t bury them more than one inch under the soil

Ensure the holes in which the Red onions seedlings are to be transplanted are large enough to hold the seedling’s root plug. Mix two handfuls of well-rotted manure with the soil in each planting hole help the seedlings get enough fertility.

In each planting hole place one seedling and ensure it is firmly positioned.
In the absence of rain, water daily; ensure that excess water drains off the planting area.

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Pest and disease control

Pests and Diseases if left unchecked can hinder a plant’s ability to produce food for us. These problems can be managed with good cultural practices, biological agents, and chemicals. A combination of these methods is best and is known as Integrated Pest Management. Rocket is also a good insecticide which you can use and is readily available in the market.

Cultural practices

As far as possible plant red onions varieties that are resistant to diseases. You can also follow preventive measures to help you curb the diseases that attack red onions below;

  • Don’t plant Red Onion in the same place year after year.
  • Assess problems before applying any treatment.
  • Use environmentally friendly chemicals.
  • Alternate suitable chemicals to avoid pests becoming accustomed to them.

How much Red Onions can one plant produce in an acre?

An acre of land can produce between 20-25 tonnes of onions depending on the climatic conditions, type of soil, and onion variety.

How marketable is Red Onions in Uganda?

Red onions are highly marketable here in Uganda. Red onions powder is made out of it and then added to food or recipes with ease. Move around the different restaurants and you will find hot pepper on every table. Therefore, the market is there.

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Are Red Onions seeds available for sale in Uganda?

Seeds for planting red onions are readily available on the market. You can buy them from down town, Kampala. However you should be careful about the type and where you buy them from. It should be a qualified person to sell you the seeds.

Can you export Red Onions to other countries from Uganda?

You can export red onions from Uganda to other countries say Italy, USA, Canada, France Germany, southern Sudan, DRC among others. You will however have to be certified by the Uganda Export Promotion Board which will then refer you to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Uganda for a phyto-certificate. This process is compulsory if you are to export your agricultural produce.

How long does Red Onions take to grow?

Harvesting can be done 90 – 150 days after transplanting depending on the variety

  • Bulb Onions are ready for harvesting when the leaves collapse or when 75 % of the tops of the crop have dried and fallen over
  • Leaf tops begin to discolor, bend and dry towards the ground
  • Reduced thickness of sheath leaves surrounding the bulbs

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Our conclusion

Red Onions are an easy crop to grow; these guidelines will help you towards a bountiful harvest from your planting.

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