Seminis is expanding its onion portfolio in New Zealand and Australia with the launch of new hybrid varieties and a $2.5 million dollar breeding and research centre in Pukekohe NZ.
Seminis Onion Breeding Lead Dr. Rick Jones (pictured) recently visited down under from the United States to tour the new research station and spend time gathering feedback from local growers and distributors.
He said Australia and New Zealand is an important market for Seminis.
“It’s essential for us to visit regularly and understand the needs of local growers, it helps us to direct our research effort and defines the products we develop.
“We have four onion breeding stations worldwide which gives us a broad spectrum of material to breed with and address the needs of regional markets like Australia and New Zealand.”
He said onions with a long shelf life and good skin quality were essential for local growers to meet the requirements of European and Asian export markets, which demand around 200,000 tonnes of New Zealand and Australian onions per year.
“We are actually starting to see a shift away from exports to Europe and instead a bigger focus on Asia. We need to understand the shift in these markets so we can respond and breed accordingly,” Dr. Jones said.
He said new hybrid varieties like the recently introduced Korimako were performing significantly better than traditional open pollinated (OP) varieties in terms of bolting tolerance and shelf-life.
“With hybrids, if you have a large stable of parents as Seminis now does, you can easily develop new hybrids to adapt to changing environmental or market circumstances as well as the emergence of new pests and diseases. You can do it a lot more quickly than with the traditional OP onion.”
Dr. Jones said Seminis had a strong pipeline of onion products ready for launch in both countries in the coming years.
“I believe Seminis has one of the most robust root disease packages in the world.
“In the next few years we will have onions available which have resistance to Pink Root and Fusarium Basil Rot.
“We are very excited about the progress we’re seeing from the new varieties at our Pukokohe breeding station in both the early and late season hybrids.
“These onions will be game-changers once they’re commercially available, and will provide real advantages to growers.”