Onion Storage

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Information @ a Glance


  • Onions, Allium cepa L., Cepa group, is a biennial of the Alliaceae family. The edible portions of the bulb are the enlarged leaf  bases and compact stem.
  • Onion is a cool season biennial that is tolerant of frost.
  • Onion, being high in water content, is a delicate commodity to store and requires special procedure and parameters, giving rise to the concept of Onion cold storage.
  • The most important factors for proper onion storage are good air circulation, relative dryness and cool temperatures.

Storage Process

  • Onions intended for storage should be dried well and cured in the field, under sheds, or in storage.
  • Bunched green onions can be stored 3 to 4 weeks at 0 C (32 F) with 95 to 98% RH. Under these conditions, bunched onions stored in polyethylene-lined containers and top-iced maintain excellent quality for 1 mo.
  • Storage-life decreases to 1 week if the temperature is 5 C (41 F), and rapid yellowing and decay of leaves occurs at higher temperatures.
  • Drying is complete when the onion neck is tight, outer scales are dry and make a rustling noise when touched, and the skin color is uniform.
  • Onions packed in sacks can only be stored for a limited period of time, about 1 mo, since air movement through sacks is insufficient to maintain proper storage conditions.
  • In handling onions it is a good idea to pass them over a screen to catch any of the loose skins and to remove any of the soft, decaying bulbs.
  • Another good option for storing onions is to tie them up in bunches and store them by hanging them upside down in a cool, dry place.


  • Onion cold storage system is used in many countries of the world to store Indian onion. It is suggested here that along with cold chain facilities it is required to maintain the quality due to high ambient temperature prevalent in our country.
  • Irradiation treatment at 5-15 Krad has shown to inhibit sprouting of onions among other root and bulb crops. The treatment is most effective before sprouting has initiated. Doses below 15 Krad have minor effects on quality, while higher doses may induce undesirable side effects.
  • Chemical control of sprouting and retting in onions has not attained the degree of dependability due to probably occasional adverse effects on the crop, though the use of maleic hydrazide has been commercialised in some of the major onion producing countries.


  • China dominates the world in onion production with an annual contribution of around 32% to the world production. Indias contribution was around 10% to the world production and is the second largest producer in the world.
  • India mainly exports onions to South East Asian countries, Middle East-Gulf countries and CIS countries.
  • 59% of imported dried onions originated from Turkey, 16% from Egypt, 8% from Greece and 7% from Macedonia. The majority of the imports of onions sets is divided between Macedonia 35 %, Holland 23% and Turkey 22%.

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