Photos courtesy of Ben de Nijs
Nearly 100 visitors took part in the Hazera Onion Field held May 1 and hosted by Fifield Land Co. in Brawley, CA, and Hazera Regional Product Manager Ben de Nijs called the event “a great success” in which the company showcased a big part of its U.S. short-day onion portfolio in the Imperial Valley that included the new Joelino variety that is expected to launch next season.
Ben told OnionBusiness the visitors were given the opportunity to explore Hazera’s onion portfolio under professional guidance from several Hazera representatives.
“Invited distributors, growers and members from the onion industry, including some visitors from abroad, came with great interest to check out the varieties and to discuss results they’ve been having on them,” he said.
Ben explained, “Hazera has made huge investments in onions, both globally as well in the United States. We acquired a short-day onion breeding program several years ago in the South and a long-day onion program in the Pacific Northwest. Together with the already longer established and successful breeding programs in Europe and Western Asia, Hazera recently developed and created a healthy portfolio for U.S. growers that will provide them added value.”
He continued, “Onions are a long-term commitment for any seed company. Hazera, part of the globally operating Groupe Limagrain, a cooperative group founded and directed by farmers, understands the long commitment and has proven this by continuously investing in this crop. Together with our breeders and other colleagues we have been very critical in selecting the right products that fits this market and are considered an added value for growers.” And, Ben said, “One of our newcomers, Joelino, is fitting this in terms of quality. This variety, previously coded 10255, has been named after Joel Canestrino, the late Hazera short-day breeder who passed away too young in 2013.”
Describing the variety, Ben said, “Joelino is a main-late season, firm, globe-shaped onion, which is very suitable for mechanical harvest. We had quite some seeds out last year in test plots, strips and blocks, with several of our clients. Hazera is planning to commercially launch this variety next season. There have already been quite some requests for seeds. “
In addition to the Joelino, Ben said, “Hazera is also excited about a new main season red hybrid, coded 10415, which currently is in development and expected to be added soon to the Hazera portfolio.”
He said, “In all colors our breeders have been working hard on many characteristics, meaning intensive selection on disease resistance, including pinkroot and quality traits like single centers, bolting tolerance, maturity, taste and skin quality. In the flat onion program, mainly for Vidalia, we’re seeing great results with our latest addition 10257, a true flat onion with good skins and good tolerance to pinkroot.”
The company also showed three new white hybrids and the early red variety, Miss Scarlet.
“Miss Scarlet has already proven itself in the U.S. in the early red market,” Ben said. “Its vigorous, erect top helps growers on getting a good and early production.”
According to onion breeder Pablo Salgado, the company is looking to a bright future in terms of short-day onion genetics. “We’re focusing our breeding efforts in finding traits that are of good value to the farmers as well as to the industry – pink root tolerance for difficult production areas, firmness for mechanical harvest, globe-shaped onions to run easily over the processing lines and storage and processing quality are some of these. During our Onion Field Day, it’s great to interact, get feedback and in many cases compliments on the achievements of what’s coming out of our breeding pipeline,” Pablo commented after the field day.
Ben said welcome feedback came from those in attendance at the field day. John Hawk with Horizon Farms was one of the growers visiting and Hawk commented that it is encouraging to see Hazera is committed to invest in research for short day onions.
“John is looking for very firm, globe-shaped onions that finish off well. He’s aware of the long process of onion breeding and after talking directly with Hazera’s short day breeder, Pablo Salgado, together with a colleague from the industry, he felt Hazera knows what he’s looking for,” Ben said.
“The good sized crew, the investment in research and this event with onions laid out nicely shows Hazera’s commitment to our industry,” Hawk said.
Lastly, Ben said, the weather was postcard-perfect for the gathering. “The enjoyable weather with a good breeze in combination with plenty of drinks and a catering serving lunch made it a very pleasant experience for all participants to be at this field day,” he said. “We know very well that here in the Imperial Valley temperatures can easily exceed 100 F. In the beginning of the week, there was a very strong wind, and there was even a wind advisory in effect in the valley. Fortunately for us, the heavy wind turned into a nice breeze by Wednesday.”
View photos of the Hazera event, courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion Sales, LLC