The onion is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. Garlic, shallot, chive, and leek are all closely related to this species. Onion is used as a vegetable in most parts of the world. It is usually used as an ingredient of a savory dish, chutneys, and or eaten raw. Common onions are available in three varieties: yellow/brown, red, and white. Onions are 89% water but are also composed of sugar, protein, fiber, and low amounts of essential nutrients. Onion contributes flavor to food without significantly raising the caloric content.
Origin Of Onions
The origin of onion is not well known as wild onion is extinct. According to ancient records, onions were used in China, Persia, and Egypt thousands of years back. Onion cultivation was first introduced in North America by the European settlers. However, the natives were already eating wild onions, raw or cooked, in different types of foods prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
Cultivation Of Onions
Fertile, well-drained soils are best for onion cultivation. Soils with high sulfur content like clayey soils are not suitable for growing onions as it produces pungent bulbs. Onions demand a high level of nutrients often necessitating the supply of nutrient fertilizers to the soil.
Production Of Onions
About 170 countries of the world cultivate onions for domestic use while some also grow onions for trade. About 9.2 million acres of onions are harvested each year on a global scale and 8% of this harvest is internationally traded. China, India, and the US are the world’s leading onion producing countries.
China is the leading producer of onions in the world. Four major allium crops, the onion, Chinese chive, garlic, and Welsh onion are grown throughout the country. The combined planting area of these crops in China is 0.473 million ha and the average annual production is 11.16 million tons a year. Of the three main types of onions cultivated in China, Allium cepa is the most popular one. The Chinese onion farmers are continuously experimenting with newer techniques of cultivation and many of these experiments have helped to increase the onion production in the country.
India is the second largest producer of onion in the world. The onions from India are famous for their strong flavor. In the country, onions are grown in two crop cycles. The first harvest is between November and January and the second harvest is from January to May. Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh are the three top onion producing states of the country. During the year 2015 to 2016, India exported onions amounting to 12,01,245.29 metric tons. The top exporting markets for Indian onions are Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, UAE, and Nepal. India is well-equipped with modern packhouses for grading and packing quality onions at the production zones.
The US is the third leading onion producing nation in the world. The farmers in the country plant about 125,000 acres of onions annually and produce about 6.2 billion pounds of the crop. The country accounts for 1.6% of the onion acreage of the world. California, Idaho-Eastern Oregon, and Washington are three top onion producing US states.