An Exclusive to OnionBusiness – Many thanks to Deron Beck, Technology Development Representative based in Payette, ID
For well over 150 years Seminis Vegetable Seeds has been a mainstay for U.S. farmers, and its onion breeding research also goes back generations.
Seminis’ oldest brand, Asgrow Vegetable Seeds, was established in 1865 in Connecticut.
Today the worldwide Seminis team researches and develops over 20 different crops with over 2,200 varieties of seeds that are marketed to a complete spectrum of growers, dealers, distributors and wholesalers in more than 150 countries worldwide.
OnionBusiness teamed up with Deron Beck, Technology Development Representative based in Payette, ID, for an in-depth look at Seminis onion seed.
Deron and breeders Rick Jones, Franco Asoro and Scott Hendricks gave us detailed info on short, mid and long day onions that come from breeding locations in the U.S., Guatemala, New Zealand and Canada. The guys talk about new hybrids, including the brilliantly named Red Nugent. (Love that name!)
Rick said, “Seminis has a long history of onion breeding research, which has allowed us to build one of the most comprehensive global portfolios of onion hybrids available. After early testing by the breeders, we hand off the most promising hybrids to our well-developed global technology development cooperators, who test the advanced hybrids in all major markets to identify which hybrids best meet our customers’ needs.”
Rick focused on short day globes from breeders in the United States and Guatemala. He said, “Our long-term focus for the short-day types continues to be the development of a package of superior disease resistance, including both root diseases and warm season foliar blight diseases, in combination with bolt resistance and bulb quality.”
Seminis also works for single centers and uniform shape. “We also continue to invest in breeding for low pungency, which increases value in the consumer chain.
The yellow portfolio includes:
• Pecos, an early-main maturity, medium yellow onion hybrid with good vigor and high Pinkroot resistance. It is medium in pungency and well adapted to the subtropical markets of South Texas and NE Mexico.
• Cougar, a proven performer and is well adapted to subtropical and tropical markets worldwide. Its main season maturity, foliar vigor, and globe shape make it a standard hybrid in many regions. It is medium yellow in color with high Pinkroot resistance.
• Nomad, a main season, medium-dark yellow hybrid with excellent foliar blight resistance and waxy blue foliage. Nomad has intermediate bolting resistance, with low pungency and produces a high percentage of single centers. This hybrid also has superior resistance to the major root diseases – pink root and fusarium basal rot.
• Duster, an early maturing, dark yellow hybrid with excellent foliar blight resistance and erect dark green foliage. Duster has a very uniform globe shape, and has low pungency and yields a high percentage of single centers. Duster has superior resistance to the major root diseases – pink root and fusarium basal rot.
• Hornet, a beautiful, early maturing, globe/grano shaped onion with light scale color. Its unique combination of bolt resistance and vigor allow it to be planted over a wide planting window. Hornet produces vigorous tops with medium green foliage. In our yield trials, Hornet has demonstrated the ability to produce uniform, large bulbs that have a high percentage of single centers, and results in very high marketable yields. Hornet is the crown jewel of our breeding efforts on low pungency and the bulbs are extremely uniform in flavor with a great sweet flavor. Hornet is tolerant to the major root diseases – pink root and fusarium basal rot.
The short day reds include:
• SV7030NS, an attractive red hybrid with excellent external and internal red color when cured. It has a late short day maturity with good vigor. Bulbs are globe-shaped when grown as mediums and small jumbos, but larger bulb sizes will tend toward a thick flat shape. SV7030NS is highly resistant to Pinkroot, making one of the very few short day reds that will produce high yields on Pinkroot-infested ground.
And the short day whites are:
• Cirrus, a proven main season white hybrid with good vigor. Cirrus has performed well in Mexico under both direct seeding and transplant production systems for many years. Bulbs are globe-shaped when grown as mediums and small jumbos, but larger bulb sizes will tend toward a thick flat shape. Cirrus has high resistance Pinkroot.
• SV4043NM, an early-main white hybrid with excellent uniformity of bulb shape and size. SV4043NM has superior vigor and produces high yields. Bulbs are globe shaped with bright white color with little greening if properly grown and handled. SV4043NM is highly resistant to Pinkroot and has relatively good bolt resistance. Results from central Mexico indicate that SV4043NM performs well in transplant and set production systems, as well as direct seeding.
Mid day globe onion breeder Franco Asoro looked the breeding efforts in the United States and New Zealand with a focus “for the mid-day onions is to develop new hybrids with strong tops, superior disease package, excellent bulb quality and high marketable yield. We also put emphasis on releasing hybrids with good firmness to be amenable for mechanical harvesting. In our current pipeline, we are also developing mid-day onions with lower pungency, thus completing our line-up of mild onions of different maturities.”
The yellow portfolio includes:
• Leona, a first-early mid-day yellow onion hybrid that produces large globe-shaped bulbs with dark yellow, thin scales. Necks are noticeably thin and dry down very well at maturity. Leona is resistant to pink root.
• Caballero, a main season onion hybrid with wide adaptability throughout the Western U.S. and high resistance to Pink root. This vigorous onion has strong tops and a healthy root system. Caballero produces uniform large to jumbo globe-shaped bulbs with tight necks and smooth medium dark brown scales.
• Candy, a versatile late mid-day onion hybrid and is a favorite throughout the United States because of its ability to consistently produce mild tasting large to jumbo-sized bulbs. With high resistance to pink root, it boasts light brown colored scales and a globe shape. Short, sturdy tops and small, tight necks allow for quick curing. Candy is intended to be used for transplanting as well as direct seeding.
• Minister, a high yielding MD onion with excellent scale quality that gives growers an earlier harvest. This is a unique product for this maturity window and lends growers new marketing opportunities for the region. This hybrid has good disease package against pink root and fusarium basal rot. This product has good shelf life and scale quality, match products grown during the main season slots and can be harvested mechanically.
• Chancellor, an adaptable, good yielding MD hybrid for main to late planting window in mid-day growing regions. It has strong tops, bulb shape uniformity high percentage of single centers. This firm hybrid would be excellent for mechanical harvest. Chancellor has good resistance against pink root and fusarium basal rot diseases.
New attractive red hybrids are in current product development for mid-day growing conditions. The focus of this segment is big size bulbs with excellent internal and external colors and high single centers.
The mid day white portfolio incudes:
• Sierra Blanca, a uniform white bulb with excellent bolt resistance and attractive glossy white scale. Sierra Blanca is a unique product in the white bulb market because of its excellent plant vigor and strong tops.
Breeder Scott Hendricks told us about long day varieties being developed in breeding U.S. and Canada locations. He said, “In the long day production areas over the last several years, we have seen extremes in weather condition, cool one year to hot the next year and back, along with dry to wet seasons. Consistent packout performance is a key goal. Traits involved are field yield, disease resistance, bolting tolerance, skin retention, firmness and ability to bulk store. End user traits include single centerness and pungency. With market trends toward salad bars, subs and pizzas we have increase our germplasm base in long day red onions to ‘catch up’ the red segment, which over the years has received less breeding attention than the yellow segment.”
The long day yellow Spanish portfolio includes:
• SV6672NW, an aggressive growing bulb with very high yield potential. This onion has one of the slimmest necks on the market, allowing it to cure well and quickly at harvest. This hybrid sizes quickly and cures with excellent scale quality.
• SV6672NW matures as an early-main season onion with excellent storage potential.
• SV6646NW, a highly uniform tall globe with a high resistance for fusarium and pink root. This onion has an attractive finish and can yield well on older ground. The tall globe shape works well for higher seed rates and can provide growers with outstanding yield. SV6646NW is also very bolt tolerant, giving the grower flexible planting windows.
• XP07716000, an onion with great mild flavor, perfect for cooking and for fresh cut applications. Growers enjoy incredible yields with this product and it has become a favorite for processors due to its high level of single centers and white flesh interior. XP07716000 tolerates late season heat and matures as a main season onion.
• Swale, a firm globe onion with a strong root and top. This main season onion works well for all irrigation regimens and has excellent resistance to pink root and fusarium basal plate rot. The dark skin finish is great for fresh market.
• Barbaro, a late season globe onion with high yield potential. This cultivar has a strong top and excellent bolt resistance. Growers like the attractive skin, high single centers and white flesh color that work well for fresh market or processing contracts.
• Commendable, a highly uniform jumbo bulb with good single centers and white flesh, suitable for overhead irrigation. Commendable is highly bolt tolerant, allowing growers to get into the field early.
• Tucannon, a uniform tall globe onion with a dark attractive skin. Tucannon has a strong robust top and performs well in long storage. This onion has shown superior performance in hot seasons, producing firm bulbs with lower incidences of internal dry scale and associated rots when compared to the competition. Tucannon is well suited for many onion markets in the Western U.S. and adaptable to any irrigation regimen.
The long day yellow hard storage hybrids include:
• LaSalle, a 105-day globe hybrid with long storage potential (8 months).
• Marquette, a 112 day storage type hybrid well adapted to regions in Pacific Northwest that retains a full scale wrap for long export and long term storage. This hybrid performs well with overhead irrigation.
• Saddleback, a 100-day maturity, excellent field yields from both transplant and direct-seeded. Very strong root system for an early onion. Round, uniform bulb with good skin retention. Storage potential is high for an early maturity onion (6-8 months).
• Catskill, a 105-day maturity. Very attractive, large round bulb with dark skin and small neck. Performs well from transplant and direct-seeded. Long-term storage potential (8 months).
• Pocono, a 110-day maturity. Very widely adapted, large uniform round bulbs with dark color skin. Excellent skin retention with long-term storage potential (8 months).
• Montclair, a 115-day maturity, quickly becoming a market leader. Adapted to long growing season areas, very uniform performance. This hybrid has a uniform round bulb shape with excellent skin retention. Long-term storage potential (6-8 months).
And the long day red portfolio contains, among other varieties, the Red Nugent. Read below:
• SV4643NT is an early main season onion hybrid with vigorous tops and roots. This early-main season hybrid has superior yield potential for its class and beats most reds in the market for its resistance to fusarium and pink root.
• Red Nugent is an early main season onion hybrid with vigorous tops and roots. This uniform globe red has excellent yield potential, dark red interior flesh color and good resistance to pink root.
The white long day portfolio includes:
• SV4058NU, a uniform bulb with excellent bolt resistance, vigorous roots and strong tops. SV4058NU has an outstanding white skin and flesh that finishes with less greening than most hybrids in the market.