Onions Australia represents the biosecurity interests of onion producers and the industry. They are members of Plant Health Australia and signatories to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. Their responsibilities include:

  • biosecurity planning and implementation at the national and farm levels
  • liaising with federal and state governments on trade issues
  • funding and supporting biosecurity initiatives
  • participating in national committees and response efforts in an emergency.

Industry overview

Onions are grown in most states, but South Australia and Tasmania together produce 66 per cent of the Australian crop. Key onion production locations are the Lockyer Valley in Queensland, north-eastern regions and the Adelaide Plains of South Australia and the Devonport–Launceston region of Tasmania. The total area planted to onions is largest in South Australia, as is the average plantings per farm.

The main type of onion grown in Australia is the traditional brown onion, which accounts for 79 per cent of fresh production. Onion production is during late spring, summer and autumn. Planting starts around April through to September, harvesting from August to March, and storage supplies the market for the winter months.

Biosecurity Plan for the Onion Industry

Biosecurity planning provides a mechanism for the onion industry, government and other relevant stakeholders to assess current biosecurity practices and future biosecurity needs. Planning identifies procedures that can be put in place to reduce the chance of pests reaching our borders or minimise the impact if a pest incursion occurs.

The Biosecurity Plan for the Onion Industry outlines key threats to the industry, risk mitigation plans, identification and categorisation of exotic pests and contingency plans. For a copy, please contact PHA on 02 6215 7700 or email biosecurity@phau.com.au.

Onions Growers' Biosecurity Manual

The Onion Growers' Biosecurity Manual contains information to help growers to implement biosecurity on-farm. Manuals usually contain an overview of biosecurity, fact sheets to identify the high priority pests of a crop, tips on crop management, and how to manage people, vehicles and equipment to minimise biosecurity risks. Manuals also contain a biosecurity self-assessment list, and templates to record pest surveillance records and visitors.

More information about on-farm biosecurity for both plant and livestock producers is available from the Farm Biosecurity website.

Fact sheets and web links about the pollination of this crop are listed below. Please be aware that some of the information was developed overseas, and environmental and seasonal variations may occur.

Low hybrid onion seed yields relate to honey bee visits and insecticide use, University of California

Onion seed production, University of California

Exotic pests (not in Australia)

The following is a list of high priority exotic pests of onions. These pests were identified during the development of the Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Onion Industry in consultation with industry, government and scientists. They have been assessed as high priority pests based on their potential to enter, establish, and spread in Australia (eg environmental factors, host range, vectors) and the cost to industry of control measures.

PHA has a range of fact sheets, contingency plans and diagnostic protocols relevant to these pests. Pest risk review documents are also available for some pests. Please contact PHA on 02 6215 7700 or email biosecurity@phau.com.au for more information.

Endorsed National Diagnostic Protocols are available from the National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostic Network webpage.

Common name Scientific name EPPRD Category Fact sheet Contingency plan Diagnostic protocol
Bacterial onion blight Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. allii FS
Bean seed fly Delia florilega FS
Leaf blight Botrytis squamosa FS
Leaf spot Cladosporium allii
Onion fly Delia antiqua FS
Root knot nematode Meloidogyne enterolobii syn. Meloidogyne mayaguensis FS
Vegetable leaf miner Liriomyza sativae 3 FS FS FS FS FS FS FSCP

Other pests

The following is a list of documents for other exotic and endemic pests of the onion industry. Please note that this is not a complete list of pests: rather it includes pests for which documents exist in the Pest Information Document Database.

Some of the documents presented here are not  tailored to the onion industry and are included for information only.

Common name Scientific name EPPRD Category Fact sheet Contingency plan Diagnostic protocol
Allium leaf miner Phytomyza gymnostoma FS
American serpentine leaf miner Liriomyza trifolii FS FS FS CP
Bulb mite Rhizoglyphus setosus
Lesser bulb fly Eumerus strigatus FS
Onion rust Puccinia allii FS
Onion thrips Thrips tabaci (exotic strains/biotypes) FS
Pea leaf miner Chromatomyia horticola FS CP
Serpentine leaf miner Liriomyza huidobrensis FS FS FS FS CP
Spotted stem borer Chilo partellus CP
Tomato black ring virus Tomato black ring virus (Nepovirus) FS
Tomato leaf miner (Liriomyza bryoniae) Liriomyza bryoniae FS CP CP
Tomato spotted wilt virus Tomato spotted wilt virus (Tospovirus) CP
Western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis FS