Happy tears for annual onion crop
THERE is nothing easy about preparing onion, but the rewards are undeniable.
Whether it be fighting back tears and stinging eyes in the kitchen or the gruelling nine month harvest process on the farm, onions make you earn them.
Myrtleford farmer, Tony Ferraro, for the past eight years has been growing onion seed for South Pacific Seed, a company that exports mostly to Japan.
“It’s a very challenging crop to grow because it takes about nine months from planting the bulbs to harvesting the seed,” Mr Ferraro explained.
“It’s about 39 to 40 weeks whereas a lot of crops are probably 10-15.”
Pollination is also a very important part of the onion seed process with 50 beehives required for Mr Ferraro’s 4.5 hectare block.
“You plant both male and female onions and the bees are used to pollinate the females with the male. Once this is done you destroy the male and harvest the female,” he told North East Media.
“You have to wait until you have enough flowers open before you introduce the bees or else they will go off looking for something else.
“We then employ about 20-30 people to come in and snip the product before drying them all off in kilns.”
Kane McCormack of the Buckland Valley is also in the industry, one that is supported by South Pacific Seed agronomists who visit at least once a week.
“The Japanese buyers have been out on the property to monitor how the crop is going,” Mr Ferraro said.
“It’s very challenging growing them through the winter months, copping rains and storms, the hardest task is to keep diseases out which is done by using fungicide sprays. There are good herbicides available that control the weeds.
“The returns are very good if you are able to overcome all the hurdles.”
WORTH THE WAIT: Tony Ferraro displays his onion seed crop in Myrtleford. Mr Ferraro describes the crop as “quite picturesque and something a bit different”.