Machine harvesting fresh market onions
Fresh market onions traditionally have been harvested by hand throughout the nation. A tractor-drawn horizontal blade severs the root system just below the bulbs; then tops and roots are clipped off with hand shears. The bulbs are stored in the field in burlap bags for a few days to cure. Many attempts have been made to mechanize topping and clipping, but, although some efforts have been moderately successful, none are used in California today. The principal reasons have been either damage to the bulbs or the inability of the equipment to remove tops and roots to market standards as capably as removal by hand.