The $2 million Seminis Onion Breeding Station has been officially opened in Pukekohe, New Zealand, in late January.
The world-class facility housing state-of-the-art sheds, crop covers and irrigation systems, represents the Seminis global mid-day onion breeding program, supporting key markets including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil.
Dr Yossi Shapiro, Global Breeding Director for Large Seed/Root & Bulb/Brassica crops at Monsanto Vegetable Seeds cut the ribbon as part of the Seminis Onion Innovation Day. Visiting from the United States, Dr Shapiro said it was an honour to officially open the station.
“The Pukekohe station is already yielding significant results for Seminis onion growers in New Zealand, Australia and further abroad. It adds an important dimension to Seminis’ global onion breeding network, both in terms of knowledge transfer and genetics,” Dr Shapiro said.
“Our investment in the new station demonstrates Seminis’ long-term commitment to Australian and New Zealand onion growers and to developing onion varieties that meet their needs and suit local conditions,” Dr Shapiro said.
Over 40 growers from Australia and New Zealand attended the innovation day, along with key members of the global Seminis onion breeding team who travelled to New Zealand from the USA, Brazil and South Africa.
The Innovation Day gave growers the opportunity to see new Seminis hybrids and hear from the experts on where breeding efforts will be focussed in future. Growers in attendance were impressed by Seminis’ investment at the station, with many commenting on the quality of facilities on-site and the pipeline of new hybrids Seminis is developing, with root disease resistance and storability improvements receiving thumbs up.
Local New Zealand growers were also impressed by the wide planting window of the new early maturing variety SVNH1752, which will offer greater flexibility in sowing schedules. New variety Currawong was also on-show. Currawong is a high yielding, first early variety with resistance to Fusarium Basal Rot and Pink Root. SV7030NS, an early red hybrid with pink root and fusarium resistance was another stand out, particularly as it has a very high percentage of single centres.
Several Australian growers travelled to New Zealand for the event. They were highly impressed by the wide planting window of SVNH1752 and excited to see dark colour in late time slot onion SVNH8265, which will be trialed for another year. Good results have been seen for the Tasmanian market from early to late, with several hybrids – Currawong, Ranguru, Shrike, Korimako and Cassowarie performing well.
In addition to exploring new varieties, attendees were treated to presentations from Dan Bloomer on precision agriculture and horticulture as well as a field mapping drone demonstration by Will Bignell. Australian growers also visited leading onion grading and packing facilities in the Pukekohe region.
For more information on Seminis Onions please contact your local Seminis representative.