To Give or Not to Give Onions: Winter CSA ’12 ” Delivery #3

 In CSA Newsletter

At parties and social functions, we are often asked how we fared this season with the heat and drought. Our common response is as follows, €œWe managed to do quite well, despite. We are fortunate we have an irrigation system. The only crop that really took a hit was our onions. A little pest called thrips did a number on them.€

Meet Onion Thrips, aka Thrips tabaci, aka minute sap-sucking insects. The little lice-like insects like to hang out on the leaves of onion plants and suck. They leave behind small, circle-shaped discolorations. In a normal Wisconsin summer, we can control them with an organically approved insecticide called Entrust. (Entrust is a brand name for spinosad, the product of a naturally occurring soil bacterium.)  But with the heat and dry weather this season, the thrips thrived and our attempts to keep the populations down were unsuccessful.

The thrips populations soared and instead of the usual cosmetic damage to our onion leaves, this year their damage lead to systemic disease in the plants. Basically the thrips weakened the immune systems of our onion plants, making it easier for other diseases to attack the plants.  The result?  Very small onions (about 50% of their normal size) and some single-layer rotting inside the bulbs. The problem with the rotting, however, is that we can’t detect it from the outside. The outside of the onion will be hard, and then inside one of the layers is rotten.

We really have no idea what percentage of the crop has some sort of damage inside the bulbs.  After the last delivery, a CSA member emailed us letting us know she was unhappy with the quality of the onions. We realized at this point that the damage to the crop might be higher than we realize.

So the question now is, do we give you, our members onions, or not?  If we do give the onions, but members aren’t aware of the reasons why the quality is lower, we risk losing members.  But if we don’t give onions at all, we also risk losing members.  To give onions or not give onions?

After some discussion, we have decided to continue giving them to you. We are a CSA farm afterall, and you are our members. That means you have joined on with us in the risks and trials of farming. We hope if you find a couple of onions in your bag that aren’t perfect you will understand, and do what we do in the kitchen:  use the good layers and peel off the rotten one. Thank you for your understanding.

Thanks as well to all of the everyother members for your support this winter season! We hope you enjoy your final box.

Sincerely, Mike, Cassie, Zea, & Edie

In the Box

  • Acorn Squash
  • Beets
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cabbage, Green
  • Carrots, orange
  • Carrots, yellow
  • Celeriac
  • Delicata Squash
  • Festival Squash
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Potato, white
  • Radish, Beauty Heart
  • Rutabaga

This Week’s Recipes

Winter Delivery #3: Wednesday, December 5th ” all REGs and EOs