Recent AHDB-funded trials aimed to provide independent assessment of the growth habit, yield, quality and storage potential of new onion varieties propagated from both sets and seed. Varietal characteristics were compared over a number of years to account for weather differences.
Onions grown from sets account for approximately 30 per cent of the area grown across the UK, with drilled onions making up the remainder.
Growers could be achieving up to 30 tonnes per hectare more in yields of both set and drilled crops by selecting the best-performing varieties. Losses from waste in storage as a result of rots could be reduced
by up to 60 per cent by selecting suitable varieties of brown and red onions for CE cold storage conditions, resulting in more efficient production.
Of the set varieties, the highest-yielding early brown varieties were Jagro and Griffon, while Rumba, Sturon and Red Baron were the highest-yielding main crop varieties.
Among the drilled varieties, the highest-yielding brown varieties were Hybing, Hytune and Hytech, with Red Light the highest-yielding red onion. The latter has also performed well in previous seasons.
‘Santero’ showed good resistance to downy mildew. Mildew-resistant varieties require less costly plant-protection products and they are a useful tool for sustainable integrated pest management strategies as well as a valuable addition for organic growers.
To find out more about the results from these trials, head to horticulture.ahdb.org.uk/publications.