‘NuMex Grandeur’ Onion

in HortScience

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The New Mexico State Univ. Agricultural Experiment Station announces the release of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ onion (Allium cepa L.). ‘NuMex Grandeur’ is an open-pollinated, late-maturing, intermediate-day, onion cultivar with red-colored dry outer scales for winter sowing in southern New Mexico and similar environments. ‘NuMex Grandeur’ matures in late July to mid-August when winter-sown in Las Cruces, NM.

Origin

‘NuMex Grandeur’ originates from ‘Texas Early Grano 502 PRR’ bolting-resistant (BR) selection; PI 249538; ‘Temprana’; and germplasm that was used to develop ‘NuMex Crimson’ (Cramer and Corgan, 2003) (Fig. 1). In September of 1980, bulbs of a BR and pink root [causal organism, Phoma terrestris (Hansen)] resistant selection of ‘Texas Early Grano 502’ and of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), PI 249538, were placed in a breeding cage together. ‘Texas Early Grano 502 PRR’, whose origin and description has been described previously (Corgan, 1984; Cramer and Corgan, 2003; Garcia and Fite, 1931; Hawthorn, 1944), is a short-day onion with yellow-colored dry outer scales that originated from ‘New Mexico Early Grano’. PI 249538 was collected from the Seed Testing and Control Station in Helandrion, Attike, Greece, on 1 Jan. 1958 by H. Gentry (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, 2013a). The accession produces bulbs that are globe-shaped and possess red-colored outer dry scales (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, 2013b). The accession was used because it is short-day in its maturity, expresses a high level of pink root resistance, and produces an extensive root system (J.N. Corgan, personal communication, 2013). When bulbs of both entries flowered in May of 1981, pollinators were introduced to the cage. Once mature, seeds were harvested and kept separate from plants of each entry. Seeds from the ‘Texas Early Grano 502 PRR BR’ parent were then sown in Jan. 1982. Bulbs that possessed red-colored dry outer scales were selected in July 1982. After bulbs broke dormancy in Oct. 1982, they were placed in a breeding cage identified as New Mexico State University (NMSU) 83-1043. In May 1983, the bulbs flowered and pollinators were introduced into the cage. Seeds were harvested from all plants and combined together. In Jan. 1984, seeds of 83-1043 were sown and 16 bulbs with red-colored dry outer scales were selected in July 1984. After bulbs broke dormancy in Oct. 1984, they were placed as the first entry in a breeding cage numbered 85-36. Bulbs of ‘Temprana’ were placed as the second entry in the same cage (Fig. 1). ‘Temprana’ is a short-day onion with white-colored dry outer scales that is a selection out of ‘New Mexico White Grano’ and was released by the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station in 1979 (Enzie and Corgan, 1979).

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Pedigree of ‘NuMex Grandeur’.

Citation: HortScience horts 49, 3; 10.21273/HORTSCI.49.3.350

In May 1985, bulbs of each entry flowered and pollinators were introduced into the cage. Seeds were harvested and kept separate from plants of each entry. In Jan. 1986, seeds of 85-36-1 and 85-36-2 were sown and eight and 15 bulbs, respectively, that possessed dark red-colored dry outer scales were selected in July 1986. After bulbs broke dormancy in Oct. 1986, they were placed in separate breeding cages. Selected bulbs from 85-36-1 were placed in a breeding cage numbered 87-1021, whereas the selected bulbs from 85-36-2 were placed in a separate breeding cage numbered 87-29. In May 1987, plants in each cage flowered and pollinators were introduced into both cages. Harvested seeds were bulked together from all plants within each cage. In Jan. 1988, seeds of 87-29 and 87-1021 were sown. Bulbs that possessed dark red-colored dry outer scales and lacked visible external expression of multiple meristems were selected from each line in July 1988. After selected bulbs from each line broke dormancy in Oct. 1988, they were placed as two separate entries in a breeding cage numbered 89-26 (Fig. 1). In May 1989, bulbs of both entries flowered and pollinators pollinated flowers from all plants within the cage. Seeds were harvested and kept separate. In Jan. 1990, seeds of both entries were sown. Bulbs that did not exhibit multiple meristems visible in the expanded leaves were selected from each line in July 1990. After the selected bulbs broke dormancy, they were placed as two separate entries in a breeding cage numbered 91-22 (Fig. 1).

A third entry, described below, was also placed in the 91-22 breeding cage. This entry traced to ‘NuMex Crimson’, a short-day, overwintered cultivar with red-colored dry outer scales that originated from intercrosses between short-day cultivars (Kurenai, Red Grano, Rojo) with red-colored dry outer scales, short-day cultivars (Henry’s Special, Texas Grano 502 PRR) with yellow-colored dry outer scales, and an intermediate-day cultivar (Peckham Yellow Sweet Spanish) with yellow-colored dry outer scales (Cramer and Corgan, 2003). ‘Peckham Yellow Sweet Spanish’ and ‘Henry’s Special’ were used in the development of ‘NuMex Grandeur’. NMSU 89-78-3 originated from ‘Peckham Yellow Sweet Spanish’ and NMSU 89-78-4 originated from an intercross between ‘Henry’s Special’ and ‘Peckham Yellow Sweet Spanish’ (Fig. 1). In Jan. 1990, seeds of 89-78-3 and 89-78-4 were sown and bulbs with red-colored dry outer scales were selected from each line in July 1990. After the selected bulbs broke dormancy, they were combined and placed as the third entry in the breeding cage numbered 91-22 (Fig. 1).

In May 1991, bulbs of all three entries flowered, seeds were harvested, and they were kept separate. In Feb. 1992, seeds of each entry were sown and bulbs with red-colored dry outer scales and the absence of multiple meristems visible in the expanded leaves were selected from each line in June 1992. After selected bulbs from each line broke dormancy in Oct. 1992, they were placed as three separate entries in a breeding cage numbered 93-26 (Fig. 1). In May 1993, bulbs of all three entries flowered and honeybees pollinated flowers from all plants within the cage. Once mature, seeds were harvested and kept separate. In Jan. 1994, only seeds of 93-26-1 were sown and bulbs with red-colored dry outer scales that were larger in size exhibited fewer pink root symptoms and did not exhibit multiple meristems visible in the expanded leaves were selected in July 1994. After the bulbs broke dormancy in Oct. 1994, they were placed in a breeding cage numbered 95-15 as three separate entries. In May 1995, bulbs of all three entries flowered and honeybees pollinated flowers from all plants within the cage. Once mature, seeds were harvested and kept separate. In Feb. 1996, seeds of each entry were sown and bulbs with red-colored dry outer scales that did not exhibit multiple meristems visible in the expanded leaves were selected from each line in July 1996. After selected bulbs from each line broke dormancy in Oct. 1996, they were placed as three separate entries in a breeding cage numbered 97-23 (Fig. 1). In May 1997, bulbs of all three entries flowered and honeybees pollinated flowers from all plants within the cage. Once mature, seeds were harvested and kept separate. In Jan. 1998, seeds of each entry were sown and 13, 10, and 15 bulbs, respectively, with red-colored dry outer scales and the absence of multiple meristems were selected from each line in July 1998. After the bulbs broke dormancy in Oct. 1998, they were placed in a breeding cage numbered 99-34 as three separate entries. In May 1999, bulbs of all three entries flowered and honeybees pollinated flowers from all plants within the cage. Once mature, seed was harvested and kept separate. In Jan. 2000, seed of each entry was sown and two, eight, and three bulbs, respectively, with red-colored dry outer scales and the absence of multiple meristems were selected from each line in July 2000. After the bulbs broke dormancy in Oct. 2000, they were placed in a breeding cage numbered 01-34 as three separate entries. In May 2001, bulbs of all three entries flowered and honeybees pollinated flowers from all plants within the cage. Once mature, seeds were harvested and kept separate.

In Jan. 2002, only seeds of 01-34-2 were sown and 26 bulbs that exhibited darker red-colored dry outer scales, greater bulb height, and were firm when hand-squeezed were selected in July 2002. After the bulbs broke dormancy in Oct. 2002, they were placed in a breeding cage numbered 03-38. In May 2003, bulbs flowered and honeybees pollinated flowers from all plants within the cage. Once mature, seeds were harvested from all plants and were bulked together. Four additional cycles of phenotypic recurrent selection were conducted in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2011. Bulbs were selected for a more rounded and uniform shape, increased bulb firmness, and darker red-colored dry outer scales. In 2004 and 2006, selected bulbs were cut transversely at the vertical center after 3 months of storage to observe the number of meristems within the center of the bulb. Only bulbs that possessed a single meristem in the center of the bulb were selected. The seed harvested from the 12-38 breeding cage became ‘NuMex Grandeur’.

Evaluation Procedures

‘NuMex Grandeur’ was compared with ‘Rumba’ (Nunhems USA, Parma, ID) in replicated trials grown in several fields in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico (Table 1). The field soil texture at the NMSU Fabian Garcia Science Center (FGSC) in Las Cruces, NM, is a Glendale loam and a Brazito very fine sandy loam, thick surface (pH 7.6), whereas the field soil texture at the NMSU Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center (LPSRC), 9 miles south of Las Cruces, NM, is a Glendale loam (pH 7.7). Seeds were sown ≈1 to 2 cm deep in two rows 6 cm apart from late January to mid-February depending on field location and year. For each two-row plot, 1.0 g of seed was sown and plants were thinned to 10 cm between plants within the row. Each plot was 2.4 m long and 1 m wide and separated by an alley of 0.6 m from the next plot on the same bed. The trials were conducted in randomized complete block designs with four replications. Standard cultural practices to produce winter-sown onions in southern New Mexico were followed (Walker et al., 2009). For each field, diammonium phosphate (18N–20P–0K; Helena Chemical Co., Collierville, TN) was applied at a rate of 170 kg·ha−1 before seeding as a band 10 cm below the soil surface. Drip irrigation was used at the FGSC for Trials 2, 3, 4, and 5, whereas furrow flood irrigation was used at the LPSRC for Trials 1 and 6. Subsurface drip irrigation lines (T Tape; T-Systems International, San Diego, CA), that had emitters every 20 cm, were placed 10 cm deep in the center of each bed. Irrigation was applied as needed. A urea-based liquid fertilizer (26N–0P–0K–6S; Western Blend, Inc., Las Cruces, NM) was applied as needed at the LPSRC for Trials 1 and 6, whereas a fish-based fertilizer (2.2N–4.4P–0.3K–0.2S; Neptune’s Harvest Fertilizer, Gloucester, MA) was applied as needed at the FGSC for Trials 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Table 1.

Bulb maturity, marketable yield, average bulb weight, percentage of single centers, and pink root severity of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ as compared with ‘Rumba’ when sown at the Fabian Garcia Science Center or the Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center in Las Cruces, NM, from 2008 to 2012.

Table 1.

Each plot was harvested when 80% of the plants in the plot had lodged. The harvest date was considered the maturity date, and the days from sowing until harvest were counted for each plot. The root systems of 20 bulbs from each plot were rated for the severity of pink root symptoms on a scale of 1 (no infected roots) to 9 (completely infected roots). After rating, bulbs were placed in mesh sacks and, on the same day, transferred indoors to an onion shed. Bulbs were cured for 3 to 4 d under ambient conditions to reduce storage losses and decay. After curing, the total bulb fresh weight was measured for each plot. Bulbs were graded to remove culls (diseased bulbs, bulbs under 3.8 cm in diameter, split and double bulbs). The number of culls was subtracted from the total bulb number to obtain the marketable bulb number per plot. After bulbs were graded, they were weighed again to obtain marketable bulb weight per plot. The average bulb weight was calculated by dividing marketable bulb weight by marketable bulb number.

Starting in 2009, dry outer scale color, adherence, thickness, and quality were rated for 20 bulbs per plot. Color was rated on a scale of 1 (very light pink) to 9 (dark purple). Adherence was rated on a scale of 1 (scales easily removed when force is applied) to 5 (scales remained attached to bulb when force is applied). Thickness was rated on a scale of 1 (very thin) to 5 (very thick). Quality was rated on a scale of 1 (poor) to 9 (very excellent). Poor scale quality characteristics included very light pink-colored dry outer scales, few scale layers, easily removed dry outer scale such that no scale remained on the bulb, dry outer scale browning or discoloration, and/or nonuniform dry outer scale color. Excellent scale characteristics included a tendency to have dark purple-colored dry outer scales, multiple dry outer scale layers, excellent scale adherence such that multiple scale layers remained on the bulb after grading, uniform dry outer scale color, and/or absence of dry outer scale discoloration or browning. In addition, the number of dry outer scales that remained on the bulb after grading was recorded for 20 bulbs per plot. After rating for scale characteristics, 20 bulbs per plot were rated for firmness. Bulbs were rated on a scale of 1 (soft) to 9 (hard) when they were squeezed by hand at two separate points at the vertical center. In addition, five bulbs from each plot were measured for bulb height and diameter. Bulb height was measured from the basal plate at the bottom of the bulb to the top of the bulb. Bulb diameter was measured at the widest distance perpendicular to the vertical height of the bulb. A bulb shape index was generated by dividing the bulb height by bulb diameter.

After firmness rating and shape measurements, 25 bulbs were cut transversely at the widest point on the vertical axis to determine the percent of bulbs possessing a single meristem. If a bulb possessed a single meristem or multiple meristems within 1.3 cm of the bulb center, then the bulb was considered single-centered. The F-test in the General Linear Models procedure of the SAS statistical software (Version 9.2; SAS Institute, Cary, NC) was used to determine differences between means of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ and ‘Rumba’ for each trait. The Proc Means statement was used to calculate the cultivar means across four replications.

Description and Performance

‘NuMex Grandeur’ is a late-maturing, intermediate-day, open-pollinated, globe-shaped onion with red-colored dry outer scales that matures from 25 July to 16 Aug. when winter-sown in Las Cruces, NM (Table 1). Suggested planting dates at Las Cruces are 15 Jan. to 28 Feb. Earlier maturity dates would be expected when ‘NuMex Grandeur’ is grown for transplant production. In four of the six environments tested, ‘NuMex Grandeur’ produced a greater marketable yield than ‘Rumba’ (Table 1). Some of this yield difference could be attributed to difference in bulb size because ‘NuMex Grandeur’ produced a greater average bulb size than ‘Rumba’ in five environments (Table 1). The percentage of single-centered bulbs produced by a red onion bulb cultivar is desirable for visual display when the bulb is cut transversely. ‘NuMex Grandeur’ produced a moderate to high percentage of single-centered bulbs and a percentage that was comparable to the percentage produced by ‘Rumba’ in four of the six environments tested (Table 1). The percentage of single-centered bulbs is often a function of bulb size because smaller bulbs tend to have fewer elongated meristems, whereas larger bulbs tend to have more. ‘Rumba’ may have produced a higher percentage of single-centered bulbs than ‘NuMex Grandeur’ because the average bulb size of ‘Rumba’ was less than that of ‘NuMex Grandeur’. Bulbs of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ exhibited a similar expression of pink root symptoms as bulbs of ‘Rumba’. In three of six environments tested, pink root severity ratings were similar for both cultivars (Table 1).

Because scale characteristics and bulb firmness were important characteristics evaluated during the selection process, the scale color, adherence, thickness, number, and quality, and bulb firmness of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ were compared with the same characteristics for ‘Rumba’ for four trials (Table 2). For two of the four trials, bulbs of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ were rated as having a darker outer dry scale color than bulbs of ‘Rumba’ (Table 2). A darker red dry outer scale color is more desirable by commercial onion buyers. In a similar number of trials, bulbs of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ were rated as having a thicker dry outer scale than bulbs of ‘Rumba’ (Table 2). Thicker scale can be a problem if it adheres tightly to the bulb; however, strong outer scale adherence does not seem to be a problem on bulbs of ‘NuMex Grandeur’. Bulbs of ‘Rumba’ tended to have more outer dry scale layers than bulbs of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ (Table 2). For two of the four trials, bulbs of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ were rated as possessing better dry outer scale quality than ‘Rumba’ (Table 2). When bulbs were hand-squeezed, bulbs of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ had a similar firmness as bulbs of ‘Rumba’ (Table 2). In terms of bulb shape, bulbs of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ exhibited greater bulb height than bulbs of ‘Rumba’ (Table 3). A greater bulb height or “depth” is desired if also accompanied by a similar increase in bulb diameter. In two of the trials, the bulb diameter of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ was greater than the diameter of ‘Rumba’ (Table 3). Bulbs that possess a shape index close to 1 tend to be more rounded in shape, which is more desired commercially. In two trials, ‘NuMex Grandeur’ exhibited a greater bulb shape index than ‘Rumba’ (Table 3).

Table 2.

Scale color, adherence, thickness, number, and quality ratings and bulb firmness rating of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ as compared with ‘Rumba’ when grown at the Fabian Garcia Research Center or the Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center in Las Cruces, NM, from 2009 to 2012.

Table 2.
Table 3.

Bulb height, diameter, and shape index of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ as compared with ‘Rumba’ when grown at the Fabian Garcia Research Center or the Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center in Las Cruces, NM, from 2009 to 2012.

Table 3.

Availability

Seed of ‘NuMex Grandeur’ may be purchased from 3 Star Lettuce, LLC, P.O. Box 4070, Salinas, CA. Interested parties should contact C.S. Cramer, Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences, MSC 3Q, Box 30003, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003. An application for plant variety protection will be filed.

Literature Cited

  • CorganJ.N.1984‘NuMex BR 1’ onionHortScience19593

  • CramerC.S.CorganJ.N.2003‘NuMex Crimson’ onionHortScience38306307

  • EnzieJ.V.CorganJ.N.1979Temprana. An early maturing white grano onion. N.M. State Univ. Coop. Exten. Serv. Circ. 488

  • GarciaF.FiteA.B.1931Early grano onion culture. N.M. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 193

  • HawthornL.R.1944Texas grano onion. Texas Agr. Expt. Sta. Prog. Rpt. 899

  • USDA ARS National Genetic Resources Program2013aGermplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) [online database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory Beltsville MD. 5 Mar. 2013. <http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1192275>.

  • USDA ARS National Genetic Resources Program2013bGermplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) [online database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory Beltsville MD. 5 Mar. 2013. <http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/obs.pl?1192275>.

  • WalkerS.AshighJ.CramerC.S.SammisT.LewisB.2009Bulb onion culture management for southern New Mexico. New Mexico Coop. Ext. Serv. Circ. 563 16 pp

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Contributor Notes

This research was funded by the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station and the New Mexico Dry Onion Commission.

Professor of Horticulture.

To whom reprint requests should be addressed; e-mail cscramer@nmsu.edu.

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Article References

  • CorganJ.N.1984‘NuMex BR 1’ onionHortScience19593

  • CramerC.S.CorganJ.N.2003‘NuMex Crimson’ onionHortScience38306307

  • EnzieJ.V.CorganJ.N.1979Temprana. An early maturing white grano onion. N.M. State Univ. Coop. Exten. Serv. Circ. 488

  • GarciaF.FiteA.B.1931Early grano onion culture. N.M. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 193

  • HawthornL.R.1944Texas grano onion. Texas Agr. Expt. Sta. Prog. Rpt. 899

  • USDA ARS National Genetic Resources Program2013aGermplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) [online database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory Beltsville MD. 5 Mar. 2013. <http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1192275>.

  • USDA ARS National Genetic Resources Program2013bGermplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) [online database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory Beltsville MD. 5 Mar. 2013. <http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/obs.pl?1192275>.

  • WalkerS.AshighJ.CramerC.S.SammisT.LewisB.2009Bulb onion culture management for southern New Mexico. New Mexico Coop. Ext. Serv. Circ. 563 16 pp

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