MULTAN - Agriculture experts have advised farmers to shift onion nursery to production field in the ongoing month of January to meet the production target of 385,210 ton in Punjab.

Pakistan is ranked fifth in the world with regard to onion production and the Punjab government has set sowing target for the year 2014-15 at 113,150 acres and production target at 385,210 ton, a spokesman for agriculture department Multan said on Wednesday.

Sowing and production targets for the year 2014-15 were a bit higher than the sowing area and production recorded last year (2013-14) at 108,000 acres and 358,800 ton respectively. Experts said shifting of onion nursery in January was safer as the crop is less affected by frost. They added that they anticipate an average per acre production of onion at 85.25 Maunds against 83.25 Maunds recorded last year.

Onion originated from Western Asia (Iran) and hails from Amaryllidaceae family and its botanical name was Allium Cepa. Onion can not be stored for a longer duration, however, zero degree Celsius and 60-65 per cent moisture can slightly improve its storage life. Every 100g of onion contains 60 calories, 89.11 gram water, 1.1 gram protein, 0.1 gram fats, 9.34 gram starch, 1.7 gram fibre, 4.24 gram sucrose, 23 gram calcium, 29 milligramme Phosphorous, 0.21 gram iron, and 10 gram Magnesium. The spokesman advised farmers to utilize better varieties including ‘Phulkara’ and dark Red for enhanced production and get soil analyzed before application of chemical fertilizers.

However, in case of no soil analysis, farmers can apply half bag of Urea or a bag of Ammonium Sulphate, or 75 per cent of a bag of Nitrophos a month after shifting of nursery in case of average fertile land.

Nursery sapling should be uprooted from moist land so that its roots remain safe and water be applied immediately after the shifting. Farmers should also remove weeds, experts said and advised that hoeing and uprooting of weeds should be done two to three times within 45 days after shifting.

Onion crop should get first three waters while maintaining seven-eight day duration, which, however, can be increased at later stages.