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  • Author or Editor: Hanna Ibiapina de Jesus x
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Onions (Allium cepa) are typically planted late fall and harvested in spring in the Vidalia, GA, USA, region. Onions grown here are renowned for their for sweetness and are marketed to consumers as Vidalia onions. High rainfall during the relatively long growing season (4 to 5 months) may result in nitrogen (N) leaching during production. Therefore, fertilizer applications are usually aligned with stages of crop development to ensure nutrient availability for the entire season. Although the impacts of N application rate have been previously investigated for Vidalia onion production, the optimal timing for the final N application of the season has not been determined. The objectives of this study were to determine the optimal timing of the last fertilizer N application (at bulb initiation, during bulb growth, or during bulb maturation) in conjunction with the impact of three N application rates (75, 105, and 135 lb/acre N) on yield and quality in Vidalia onion. Soil N levels were affected by N rate, year, and onion growth stage. In 2020, up to 135 lb/acre N was required to maximize onion yields, and in 2021, onion yields were unchanged among N fertilizer treatments. Final N applications at bulb initiation resulted in greater yields than applications made during bulb growth or bulb maturation. In addition, as the N rate increased and the time of final application occurred later in bulb development, pungency values increased. Incidence of sour skin (Burkholderia cepacia) and center rot (Pantoea sp.) diseases were greater in 2020 compared with 2021 and seemed to be affected by environmental conditions more than N fertilization.

Open Access

A range of organic fertilizers are available for vegetable crops; however, there is a lack of information regarding the performance and rates of organic fertilizers commonly used in the production of Vidalia onion (Allium cepa). Two commercial organic fertilizers, a mixed source organic fertilizer [MIX (10N–0.9P–6.6K)] and a pelleted poultry litter [PPL (5N–1.8P–2.5K)], were evaluated in two soil types at application rates of 0, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 lb/acre nitrogen (N) to determine their impact in the production of Vidalia onions in Georgia, USA, with the objective of determining an optimal fertilizer source and application rate. Field trials were conducted in the 2019–20 and 2020–21 growing seasons in Watkinsville, GA, USA (Cecil series sandy clay loam soil) and Tifton, GA, USA (Tifton series loamy sand soil) on certified organic land. There were significant interactions among location, year, and fertilizer application rate for total marketable yield. In Watkinsville, total marketable yields of onions at different N rates ranged between 1320 and 4565 lb/acre in 2019–20, and between 9951 and 28,749 lb/acre in 2020–21. In Tifton, total marketable yields ranged from 3776 to 9264 lb/acre and 7094 to 14,066 lb/acre in the 2019–20 and 2020–21 seasons, respectively. Aboveground onion N accumulation at harvest was affected by an interaction among location, study year, and fertilizer rate. The largest plant N accumulation was in Watkinsville in 2020–21, ranging from 26 to 50.8 lb/acre N in the 0- and 300-lb/acre N treatments, respectively. In 2020, there were no differences in soil inorganic N at harvest between plots receiving the MIX (9 lb/acre N) or PPL (9.8 lb/acre N) in either location. In 2021, soil inorganic N was greater in plots receiving the MIX fertilizer (14.8 lb/acre N) compared with the PPL fertilizer (11.2 lb/acre N). Yields increased linearly with additional fertilizer; therefore, an optimal application rate for organic fertilizers was not determined.

Open Access