New Mexico onion field trials will help produce high-quality bulbs

Onions are biennial vegetables that must go through dormancy after their first season of growth. Gaining a better understanding of environmental stress and the physiological processes behind growth, maturation and dormancy has helped New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station researchers identify genes that will help produce high-quality bulbs. During field trials, the New Mexico State University onion breeding program grew six onion accessions under various abiotic and biotic stressors, including different irrigation treatments, Iris Yellow Spot virus infection and thrips insect pressure, all of which are common in New Mexico onion fields. Three years of data collection included rate of carbon fixation, overall photosynthesis, seasonal bulb weight yield and maturation date.Results showed the genetics of each onion accession is a major factor in how well an onion will grow in the presence of environmental stress. There was also acorrelation in the rate of photosynthesis and bulb yield. These findings will help onion growers and breeders produce high-quality bulbs underwater, virusand insect stress.

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