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Christopher S. Cramer

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Christopher S. Cramer

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Christopher S. Cramer

Eighteen hybrid onion and 23 open-pollinated (OP) varieties were tested in southern New Mexico for plant characteristics, disease resistance, and bulb yield in order to determine if hybrid varieties outperformed OP varieties. Varieties were short- to intermediate-day in their bulbing response and were planted in the fall seasons of 1997 and 1998 and harvested the following May or June. Varieties were grouped based upon their relative maturity for fall-planted onions grown in southern New Mexico (early, intermediate, late). They were planted two (1998) or four (1997) rows per plot with plots being 8 ft (2.5 m) long and 22 inches (56 cm) wide. Plant stand per plot, plant height of seven plants, and leaf number of seven plants were measured 164 d after planting. Plots were harvested when 80% of the plant tops had fallen across all four replications of a single population. At harvest, number of seedstalks, number of bulbs, pink root incidence, and total bulb weight per plot were recorded. After removing culls, the percentage of marketable bulbs, marketable bulb yield, and average bulb size were determined. Hybrid varieties outperformed OP varieties for plant height, and leaf number but not for percentage of seedstalks, pink root incidence, percentage marketable yield, bulb size, and marketable bulb yield. In this study, most OP varieties perform as well or better than most of the hybrid varieties.

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Christopher S. Cramer

Determination of ploidy is an essential plant breeding technique. Laboratory exercises for teaching students how to determine ploidy in plant tissues using various techniques are described for geranium and onion. The different methods include root tip squashes, pollen mother cell squashes, pollen grain size and germinal pore counts, stomata size and density determination, and gross morphology.

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Christopher S. Cramer*

Heritability estimates of bolting percentage (BP), pink root (PR) and Fusarium basal rot (FBR) incidences, and percentage of single centered (PSC) bulbs were calculated for an intermediate-day, open-pollinated onion population using selection response and half-sib (HS) family analyses. BP was determined by counting the number of seedstalks per plot when the population was seeded at an earlier planting date to induce bolting. PR and FBR incidences were determined by rating 30 bulbs/plot for the severity of PR and FBR, and calculated an incidence rate from the number of infected bulbs out of 30 rated. The PSC bulbs was determined by cutting transversely 30 bulbs at the vertical center of the bulb and looking for the presence of a single growing point or multiple growing points within 1.3 cm from the center of the bulb. Families were also evaluated for bulb quality that consisted of shape, size, maturity, firmness, number of scale layers, and dry outer scale thickness, adherence, retention, and color. Families were selected based upon an index that equally weighted BP, PR and FBR incidences, PSC bulbs, and bulb quality. No progress was made for BP even though the narrow sense heritability (h2) estimate was 0.51. PR and FBR incidence was reduced by 18% and 12%, respectively, and realized heritability (RH) estimates of 0.65 and 0.60, respectively, were calculated. h2 estimates calculated through HS family analysis was 0.46 and 0.37, respectively, for these two traits. Very little progress was made for the PSC bulbs and this was reflected in a RH estimate of 0.17. However, the h2 estimate was 0.71, suggesting that progress should be possible.

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Christopher S. Cramer

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Christopher S. Cramer

Realized heritability estimates of bolting percentage, pink root and fusarium basal rot severities and incidences, and percentage of single-centered bulbs were estimated for half-sib families of an intermediate-day, open-pollinated onion (Allium cepa L.) population using selection response analysis. Half-sib families were selected based upon an index that equally weighted bolting percentage, pink root and fusarium basal rot severities and incidences, percentage of single-centered bulbs, and bulb quality. Families were subjected to one cycle of half-sib family recurrent selection. Pink root and fusarium basal rot severity was reduced by 17% and 7%, respectively, with realized heritability estimates of 1.28 and 0.65, respectively. More progress for pink root severity was made than was selected. Disease incidence was reduced by 18% and 12%, respectively, with heritability estimates of 0.65 and 0.60, respectively. Very little progress was made for the percentage of single-centered bulbs and this was reflected in a heritability estimate of 0.17. Selection based upon multiple characters at the same time may reduce the effectiveness of making improvements in a single trait. However even with low to moderate heritability, improvements were made, and suggest that further improvements can be made through selection.

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Christopher S. Cramer

As fall-sown onions are seeded earlier, an increase in premature seedstalk (bolting) incidence is observed for bolting-susceptible cultivars. The mechanism of resistance for bolting-resistant cultivars is not well known. Four fall-sown cultivars (Daybreak, NuMex Mesa, NuMex Sweetpak, Texas Early White), that differed in their bolting susceptibility, were seeded on four separate dates in September, each one week apart, in Las Cruces, N.M., to observe their growth and performance at each seeding date. Plant height and leaf number were measured monthly throughout the growing season from 10 plants in each plot. Prior to harvest, the number of plants that bolted were counted. When 80% of the plants in a plot were mature, the bulbs were harvested and the maturity date, disease resistance, bulb yield, and percentage of single centers were recorded. In general, earlier seeding dates resulted in larger plants with more leaves than later seeding dates when compared early in the growing season. By harvest time, plants from later seeding dates were comparable in height and had produced more leaves than earlier seeded plants. Plant height of `NuMex Mesa' (bolting resistant) was less than the plant height of bolting-susceptible cultivars. Bolting-resistant and bolting-susceptible cultivars produced similar numbers of leaves throughout the season. The mechanism of bolting resistance for `NuMex Mesa' may be a smaller plant size and/or a greater plant size required for receptivity to bolting-inducing temperatures as compared to bolting-susceptible cultivars. In general, cultivars exhibited less bolting, later maturity dates, and an increase in bulb yield with a delay in seeding.

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Christopher S. Cramer

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Christopher S. Cramer