When Are Onions Ready to Harvest? Signs to Watch for

Know the ideal time to harvest different types of onions and the proper way to pick them from your garden when harvesting season comes.

Sean Stratton | Updated January 4, 2023
new harvest onions in the table

Planted onions in your garden for the first time? Crossing off days in the calendar and eagerly waiting for a basketful of harvest? But you don’t know when are onions ready to harvest?

You can tell if it is time by looking at the tops of the onions. If they are yellow or brown and flop over, it’s time to harvest.

When Are Onions Ready to Harvest?

Onions are ready for harvesting 3 to 4 months after planting, when the tops flop over and turn brown. The necks of the onion will also turn white and bend over at this time. Factors that can influence the timing are the weather, cultivation techniques, and geographical location.

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When Are Red Onions Ready to Harvest?

Red onions are one of the most common variants of onion. Besides yellow onions, they are widely used in the kitchen to prepare delicious meals. The thing that will grab your attention is the color. A beautiful red color that catches the eye! Another thing that will impress you is its taste.

So, overall, it’s a great choice for dishes. This onion is easy to grow; just needs some good soil, sunlight, fertilizer, and a little bit of care. But the question is when and how to know that the onions are ready to harvest?

If you want to harvest the fully grown onions, you can identify them by observing signs that we’ve already told you. The tops will no longer remain green rather they will turn yellow. The necks of the onions will become soft and tops will naturally flop over as well.

So, depending on the time of planting the sets, your onions should be matured and ready to harvest between the late days of August to early October.

When Are Green Onions Ready to Harvest?

Firstly, there is no precise timing for the green onion harvesting season. This is because harvesting green onions depends on your preferences. If you like to eat green onions with a mild flavor, you need to pick them when they are not fully matured yet. The size of the tops will be like a regular pencil.

And if you like a little bit of strong-flavored green onions, you can wait until the tops become like 8 to 12 inches tall and ½ inches in thickness.

Onion plants are just awesome; they don’t stop producing the tops. In fact, the tops keep growing throughout the whole season. That’s why from planting, you can start harvesting after they reach the age of more than four weeks and you can continue harvesting roughly until it’s winter.

When Are Yellow Onions Ready to Harvest?

The yellowish color is the significance of yellow onions. Growing them is easy and they don’t take too long to be harvested. It can be grown easily. If you can ensure proper soil, fertilizer, and care, you can expect a good yellow onion harvest.

Depending on the factors like weather, soil condition, or fertilizer, your onions should be ready to be picked up from mid-summer all the way to late summer. You can identify if they are ready to harvest or not by looking at the tops; they will flop over.

If you want to make your harvest even better, you can plant some companions with the yellow onions. You can plant Chamomile, Cabbage, and Carrots with your onions. They will mutually benefit each other and you will get a basketful of harvest.

When Are Walla Walla Onions Ready to Harvest?

Saying the word ‘Walla Walla’ is not just a sweet and fun thing, the onion itself is sweet. That’s what makes it different from other onions. This onion variant is easy to grow, so you can easily grow it in your garden and enjoy delicious recipes.

Your Walla Walla onions will be ready to be harvested when you notice the bulbs are getting a deep, rich color and the size is at the fullest. Plus, the stalks will turn brown and fall over. To be more specific about the time, the Walla Walla onions of Washington’s Walla Walla Valley and Oregon are harvested in the middle of June.

When Are Bunching Onions Ready to Harvest?

There can be different types of bunching onions. Depending on the type, the harvesting time may vary. But generally speaking, the harvesting time should be like 2 months. How can you tell the bunching onions are ready?

Firstly, look at the stalks. The stalks will be green and the size will be around 12 inches. If the size is a little bit longer than that, it’s still fine to harvest.

When Are Spring Onions Ready to Harvest?

Generally speaking, Spring onions are regular Allium cepa onions. But they are harvested before the size of the bulb reaches the size of a quarter.

From sowing, the spring onions will take approximately 8 weeks to be ready for harvesting. At that time, the plants will become roughly 15 to 20 centimeters tall and the bulbs will be less than 2 and ½ centimeters in size.

When Are Candy Onions Ready to Harvest?

The signs of harvesting candy onions are the same as other onions that we’ve discussed earlier. First, let your candy onions grow to their full size. When they are ready to harvest, the necks of onions will become soft and the stalks will fall over. Plus, you can identify by looking at the color of the stalks, they will turn brown.

When Are Sweet Onions Ready to Harvest?

According to IFAS Extension, University of Florida, if you plant sweet onions in late Fall or early Winter, your onions will be ready to be picked by April and May. The time may vary from place to place.

However, you can identify the harvesting season the old-fashioned way; looking at the tops. If they are falling over and the color is yellow, consider yourself picking them from the garden.

How to Pick Onions?

Now you know the onion harvesting time, it’s time to learn how to pick the onions from the garden soil.

Step 1: Digging a Circle

First, you need to make the soil loose around the onion bulb. So, start digging a circle around the bulb using a small garden spade. Be careful and keep a distance while digging because you don’t want to cut the onion; this may rotten the onion. Plus, dig under the onion bulb.

Step 2: Pulling the Onion

Now the soil is loosened and ready for pulling the onion. Grab the neck of the onion firmly and gently pull it up. The onion should come out with the roots and everything that was inside the soil. Keep it in a basket, and after that, it will be ready for curing and further processing.

Tip: You should harvest the onions in the morning, the cool morning temperature is ideal for harvesting onions.

How Are Onions Harvested Commercially?

Commercial onion harvesting is done in 2 ways; Hand harvesting and Machine harvesting. The steps are different for both methods.

Hand Harvesting

  • Step 1: Preparation

Before picking the onions, spiker rollers are used to clear the furrows. And the lifter bar is used to move the soil so that onions can be easily collected by the workers.

  • Step 2: Collecting and Trimming

The workers handpick the onions from the field. They also trim the tops. Sometimes they trim the roots if needed. Then they dump the onions in large containers for further processing.

Machine Harvesting

Three machines are used in this method of harvesting.

  • Step 1: Mower

This machine removes the top of the onions before picking them up from the soil.

  • Step 2: Wind Roller

Wind roller is responsible for digging the onions from the ground, putting them in a conveyor belt, and cleaning the dirt from them. Then it leaves the onions on the ground for the next machine.

  • Step 3: Top Air

The Top Air picks up the onions left by the Wind Roller. It removes all the unnecessary things from the products and lets the workers inspect them for further processing.

Final Thoughts

If you are planning to harvest the onions from your garden but don’t know when is the ideal time, this article is the thing you need. In this article, we’ve talked about times to harvest different types of onions. So, you don’t need to feel shy to ask your neighbor about the harvesting season anymore.

Written by Sean Stratton

Sean Stratton

Hi, I'm Sean, the senior editor here at Fertilizer Pick. I grew up on a farm in North Carolina and have grown fruits, vegetables, and trees since childhood. While I no longer live on a farm today, I still enjoy spending time on my garden and sharing my knowledge with friends and fellow garden enthusiasts.