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NMSU Releases Six New onion varieties

LAS CRUCES - White and crispy, sweet and tasty, late maturing. Perfect for rings. These are just a few of the improved characteristics onion growers in southern New Mexico can chose from with the release of six new varieties from New Mexico State University's Agricultural Experiment Station (AES).


"We had some of these varieties in commercial tests this last year, and growers were very pleased with them," said Joe Corgan, AES onion breeder. "So, we're very optimistic that they'll catch on. They all have potential to be very important to the New Mexico onion industry."

The new varieties, developed by Corgan during the last 15 years, include NuMex Centric, NuMex Crispy, NuMex Luna, NuMex Mesa and NuMex Vado. Corgan also collaborated with Marisa Wall, AES breeder and post-harvest physiologist, on a sweet variety called NuMex Dulce.

"I'd like to acknowledge the support of the New Mexico industry, through the New Mexico Dry Onion Commission, because they've been very supportive of our research program over the years," Corgan said.

NuMex Centric is a yellow Spanish-type onion that growers can seed in the spring and harvest mid- to late-July for fresh or ring processing markets. "We selected the name "Centric' to indicate that the variety was developed to have a high percentage of bulbs with single centers," Corgan said. "We're recommending that growers test it for use in onion-ring processing."

Onion ring processors demand bulbs that have single centers, so they can obtain the maximum number of rings per bulb.

NuMex Crispy was named for its very firm, crisp texture, he said. "This onion has the best white color quality of any grano-type onion that we've seen," Corgan said. "It's very low in pungency -- just one of the very best eating-quality onions. Growers may want to develop promotional programs with Crispy as a white, sweet onion."

Crispy is planted in the fall to mature about June 10.

NuMex Luna and Vado are both yellow, fall-seeded onion varieties that mature in the hot days of mid- to late-June. Corgan said the two varieties were developed to be tougher than typical grano-type onions and should handle packing and shipping well.

"We're trying to provide for continuity of harvest, but to do it from direct seed in the fall, rather than having to transplant," he said. "It's more economical, and some growers just don't like to deal with transplants at all. This gives them the option to fill in that maturity season from direct-seeded onions."

NuMex Mesa, a yellow onion, was developed for fall seeding in southern New Mexico to harvest about June 1. "This variety is very resistant to bolting, so it can be planted earlier than NuMex Sunlite or NuMex Starlite," Corgan said. When onions bolt, they produce flowering seed stalks, and the bulbs aren't marketable.

"Growers may want to use NuMex Mesa to produce jumbo and colossal-type bulbs from fall seeding," he said.

NuMex Dulce is a low-pungency onion that Wall and Corgan also developed for fall seeding. "We hope that it will be marketed as a sweet onion," Wall said. "It also has a high degree of single-centered bulbs, which is important for the fresh market, as well as the processing industry."

Dulce is less pungent and more uniform flavor than NuMex Starlite, which is currently marketed under the NuMex Sweet trademark.

To develop Dulce, Wall used a laboratory technique called pyruvate analysis, which all to more accurately select the best onions based on low pungency than is possible with taste testing.

Wall said more sweet onions varieties may be released in a couple of years to help growers fill a growing demand in the fresh market industry.