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New Mexico State University

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Growers Should Find NMSU Onion Field Day Appealing

LAS CRUCES - Field tours and updates on New Mexico State University's onion breeding research will highlight an onion field day May 25 at NMSU's Fabian Garcia Research Center, just west of the main campus.

Stephanie Walker, vegetable specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, prepares experimental onion breeding lines for a field day May 25 at NMSU's Fabian Garcia Research Center. The program will focus on new varieties, in addition to weed and insect control. (05/10/2005) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"NMSU's onion breeding has been a major success story of a university program working with growers to strengthen an industry," said Stephanie Walker, vegetable specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "Over the years, the university has released onion varieties with increased disease resistance and higher yields for local growers."

Last year's onion crop was valued at more than $44 million, according to the New Mexico Agricultural Statistics Service.

The free, half-day program for regional onion growers will focus on new open-pollinated lines for release, as well as experimental breeding lines. Some 25 fall-seeded, 40 spring-transplanted and 40 spring-seeded entries will be on display.

"This year's field day is a chance for growers and the public to get a firsthand look at what's happening at our experimental farm," Walker said. "They can actually see the onion varieties being developed by the university and judge them against commercially available varieties."

The field day program begins at 9 a.m., and concludes with a noon luncheon sponsored by Lockhart Seed Co. Participants staying for lunch are asked to RSVP by May 18.

Chris Cramer, an onion breeder with NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station, will lead a tour of the university's current breeding program. Justin Norsworth, a research specialist with NMSU's Extension plant science department, will discuss weed control.

Natalie Goldberg, a plant pathologist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, will update participants on iris yellow spot virus, while Brad Lewis, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture entomology and nursery industries bureau chief, will cover thrip control in onions.

Two years ago NMSU scientists discovered a way to fill an early summer harvesting window with a new white onion variety, NuMex Solano, that hits the fresh market while other varieties are still in the ground. They also released a red onion, NuMex Crimson, a first for NMSU.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, please contact Walker at (505) 646-5280 or swalker@nmsu.edu before the event.