Growers could be achieving up to 30 tonnes per hectare (12t/acre) more in yields of both set and drilled crops by selecting the best performing varieties, latest onion variety trials show.
Losses from waste in storage, as a result of rot, could also be reduced by up to 60 per cent in some varieties of brown and red onions in cold storage conditions, resulting in more efficient harvests.
The trials, jointly funded by AHDB and seed companies, also identified that the variety Santero offers good resistance to downy mildew as well as good storage potential. Mildew-resistant varieties require less costly plant protection products and are a useful tool for sustainable crop protection as well as a valuable addition for organic growers, according to AHDB.
Dawn Teverson, AHDB knowledge exchange manager said: “While yield data is important for growers when selecting varieties, other factors also need to be considered to increase productivity.
“These trials offer valuable objective data on maturity, so growers can stagger the harvest season; storage potential which can reduce waste and help to balance supply and demand; as well as disease resistance to help growers with long-term and sustainable integrated crop management.”
Bruce Napier, project lead from NIAB, said: “One of the primary objectives is to assess the storage potential of new varieties. There is nothing more soul destroying than seeing all your efforts go to waste so it is vital that the harvest yield is maintained in store. A 40 per cent difference in storage performance would equate to the equivalent of 24t/ha extra lost in the poorest performing varieties.”