Local knowledge driving global advancements in onion breeding

Thursday 9th August 2018

For Dr. Rick Jones onion breeding is second nature.

The Global Onion Breeding lead has been working with onions for over 30 years. Based in Texas, Rick manages and partakes in Seminis onion breeding tours around the globe. He says one of the key factors in successful onion breeding is recognising the value of local germplasm.

“One of the principals of onion plant breeding is to utilize the germplasm resources that you have on a local basis,” says Dr. Rick Jones. “This helps solve local breeding problems.”

“Something that makes onions so unique is the adaptability to daylength bands,” says the onion breeder of 30 years. “The maturity of an onion really depends on the daylength which is determined by the latitude.”

In January 2018, Seminis opened its brand-new Onion Breeding Station in Pukekohe, New Zealand. This world-class facility successfully supports key onion markets including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil. Growers from the local onion community have been particularly impressed with Seminis’ investment in the station and the pipeline of new hybrids that the company is developing, with root disease resistance and storability improvements receiving thumbs up.

“Our major breeding objective with the Pukekohe Onion Breeding Station is to combine the excellent storability that we find in the locally adapted germplasm with disease resistance from all over the world,” Dr. Jones said.

Seminis has successfully developed a rich pipeline of superior onion hybrids for both the Australian and New Zealand onion markets. With the development of plant pathology and information technology consistently improving, it will allow Seminis Vegetable Seeds to move faster and solve more problems for onion growers in the future than ever before.