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  • Author or Editor: Manish K. Bansal x
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Vidalia onions (Allium cepa) are a branded product of southeastern Georgia marketed under a federal marketing order. They are short-day, yellow onions with a Granex shape that are susceptible to a number of diseases postharvest, limiting the amount of time they can be marketed. Postharvest treatments and storage methods can help extend their marketability. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate these postharvest treatments and storage conditions on quality of three Vidalia onion varieties: ‘WI-129’, ‘Sapelo Sweet’, and ‘Caramelo’. All varieties were undercut, then either harvested immediately (zero cure), field cured (2 days), or forced-air heat cured (3 days at ≈37 °C) when judged mature. ‘WI-129’, ‘Sapelo Sweet’, and ‘Caramelo’ represent early, midseason, and late varieties, respectively. Bulbs were then sorted and stored in refrigerated storage [0–1 °C, 70% relative humidity (RH)], sulfur dioxide (SO2) (1000 mg·L−1 in 2010 and 5000 mg·L−1 in 2011, one time fumigation) followed by refrigeration, ozone (O3 (0.1–10 mg·L−1; continuous exposure, 0–1 °C, 70% RH), or controlled-atmosphere storage [3% oxygen (O2), 5% carbon dioxide (CO2), 0–1 °C, 70% RH]. After 2 and 4 months, bulbs were removed from storage, and evaluated after 1 and 14 days for quality and incidence of disorders. ‘Caramelo’ had the lowest percent marketable onions after curing in 2010, while ‘WI-128’ had the lowest percent marketable onions in 2011. There was a rain event immediately before harvesting ‘Caramelo’ that may have contributed to low marketability in 2010. Heat curing improved marketability for ‘Sapelo Sweet’ and ‘WI-129’ in 2010 compared with no curing. In 2011, heat curing resulted in more marketable onions for ‘Sapelo Sweet’ compared with no curing. Curing had no effect on ‘Caramelo’ in 2011 and field curing had the greatest percent marketable onions for ‘WI-129’ in 2011. In 2010, controlled-atmosphere storage had more marketable onions compared with SO2 for ‘Caramelo’ and was better than simple refrigeration or O3 with ‘WI-129’. In 2011 refrigeration, controlled-atmosphere storage, and O3 were all better than SO2 with ‘Caramelo’. ‘Sapelo Sweet’ and ‘WI-129’, on the other hand in 2011, had better storage with SO2 compared with other storage methods. Onions stored for 2 months had 32% and 17% more marketable onions after removal compared with 4 months of storage regardless of storage conditions for 2010 and 2011, respectively. Poststorage shelf life was reduced by about one-third, 14 days after removal from storage regardless of the storage conditions.

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Vidalia onions (Allium cepa) are very susceptible to infection from pathogens and diseases compared with other types of onions. Botrytis neck rot (BNR) (Botrytis allii) is the most common and destructive storage disease, whereas sour skin (Pseudomonas cepacia) can cause significant bacterial losses, particularly, for late season cultivars. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of different fungicide and bactericide drenches on marketability of Vidalia onions using the cultivar Savannah Sweet grown, harvested, and graded for high-quality onions. Six different fungicide treatments were evaluated, including fludioxonil at two different rates, fluopyram and pyrimethanil in combination, and pyraclostrobin and boscalid in combination with a water-only and an untreated entry. In addition, four different bactericide treatments were evaluated, including copper hydroxide and copper sulfate pentahydrate with a water-only and untreated control. Treatments were applied by drenching the onion bags with 1 gal of solution at the desired concentration. Onions treated with fungicide were inoculated with the pathogen that causes BNR, whereas the bactericide treatments were inoculated with the pathogen that causes sour skin by placing a single inoculated bulb into each bag. Half of the bags were heat-cured for 48 hours and all of the onions were stored immediately under refrigerated conditions at 34 to 36 °F for 2 or 4 months. Bactericide treatments were not heat-cured the second year of the study. Onions were evaluated after 1 and 14 days of shelf life. For both years, all the fungicide applications were effective with more marketable onions compared with the controls. Fludioxonil, fluopyram/pyrimethanil, and boscalid/pyraclostrobin had the highest percentage of marketable onions compared with the water or untreated controls. Fluopyram/pyrimethanil and boscalid/pyraclostrobin fungicides had significantly higher percentage of marketable onions than the controls but were similar to the low rate of fludioxonil. Bactericide applications were not effective in reducing losses when compared with the controls.

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