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  • Author or Editor: Thad Paulk x
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Bolting causes significant economic losses in sweet onion (Allium cepa L.) production. Although temperature and photoperiod are considered to be the main factors that initiate bolting in onions, preliminary results suggested that low N fertilization rates increased bolting. The objective of our study was to determine the relationships of bolting, yield and bulb decay with N fertilization rates. The N fertilization rates applied ranged from the infraoptimal to the supraoptimal (from 102 to 302 kg·ha-1 N). Shoot and bulb N content increased with increasing N rates, but there were no differences in the respective shoot and bulb N contents among cultivars. Bolting incidence declined steadily with increasing N fertilization rates up to 197 kg·ha-1 N. Bolting incidence was among the highest in the cultivar Pegasus. The percent of decayed bulbs also increased at a steady rate with the rate of N applied. Total (14.7 t·ha-1) and marketable (0.8 t·ha-1) yields at the lowest N rate (102 kg·ha-1 N) were lower (P ≤ 0.01) than those at higher N rates. Rates of N ≥145 kg·ha-1 had no significant effect on either total (mean = 33.6 t·ha-1) or marketable (mean = 21.6 t·ha-1) yields. Losses in marketable yield were primarily a combination of bolting and bulb decay and were minimized at 162 kg·ha-1 N. Yield losses at low N rates were mostly due to bolting while yield losses at high N rates were mostly due to decay. Thus, excess applications of N fertilizer should be avoided since they have little effect on yields or bolting but they increase bulb decay.

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Beginning in 2001 the Georgia Department of Agriculture mandated testing of new and existing Vidalia onion varieties under the supervision of the University of Georgia. This was prompted by the introduction of early maturing Japanese overwintering varieties, which were perceived to be more pungent than traditional varieties grown in the Vidalia district. The testing primarily focused on flavor and pungency (pyruvate analysis) to determine suitability as a Vidalia onion variety. Our testing compared varieties to an industry standard, initially variety Granex 33, which was later switched to `Savannah Sweet'. In almost all flavor and pungency tests differences were detected among the varieties, however, since the chosen standard variety usually fell within the middle of the tested range, there was no consistent rejection of a variety. If a different statistical approach had been used it would have been possible to reject several varieties over the course of testing. Using multiple comparison with the best (MCB), a modification of Dunnett's test where the best performing variety for a particular parameter becomes the standard, several varieties would have been excluded, but not all of the early Japanese overwintering types. Finally, in 2005 a consumer acceptance study was conducted with 30 consumers evaluating each of 49 varieties resulted in an LSD (5%) with no differences between the top 38 entries, which included several of the Japanese overwinter types. It is becoming clear that concerns over flavor with these early varieties are unfounded.

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This study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of harvest date on yield and storage of short-day onions in controlled-atmosphere (CA) storage conditions. In general, harvest yields increased with later harvest dates. Yields of jumbo (>7.6 cm) onions primarily showed a quadratic or cubic response to harvest date, first increasing and then showing diminished or reduced marginal yields. Medium (>5.1 to ≤7.6 cm) onions generally showed diminished yield with later harvests as jumbos increased. Neither days from transplanting to harvest nor calculated degree days were reliable at predicting harvest date for a particular cultivar. Cultivars (early, midseason, and late maturing) performed consistently within their harvest class compared to other cultivars for a specific year, but could not be used to accurately predict a specific number of days to harvest over all years. Only three of the eight statistical assessments of percent marketable onions after CA storage were significant with two showing a linear increase with later harvest date and one showing a cubic trend, first increasing, then decreasing, and finally increasing again based on harvest date.

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Short-day onion (Allium cepa) variety trials were conducted in southeastern Georgia from 2000–03. Data collected and evaluated included total yield, graded yield, harvest date, number of seedstems, number of doubles, number of onion centers, bulb shape, disease incidence, bulb pungency, and storability in controlled atmosphere (CA) storage. Fifty-eight varieties were evaluated in the trials with 10 varieties appearing in all 4 years. Twenty-nine varieties appeared only once in the trials. Eight varieties had jumbo yields (≥3-inch diameter) that were not significantly different from the greatest jumbo yielding variety in 2 of the 4 years of testing and included `Century', `EX 19013', `Georgia Boy', `Mr. Buck', `Sapelo Sweet', `Savannah Sweet', `Sweet Vidalia', and `WI-609'. Early season varieties were strongly daylength dependent with foliar lodging occuring early and uniformly. Late season varieties were more prone to bacterial infection particularly if postharvest heat curing was employed. Although significant differences between varieties for seedstems (flower formation) and bulb doubling occurred almost every year, environmental conditions were an important part of their development. Five varieties had seedstems in 2 of the 3 years seedstems were prevalent that did not differ from the greatest number of seedstems for that year and included `Cyclops', `Georgia Boy', `Mr. Buck', `Pegasus', and `SSC 6372 F1'. `Sapelo Sweet' and `Sweet Advantage' had more than 5% bulb doubling in 3 years of the trials. Pungency as measured by pyruvate analysis ranged from 1.1 to 5.4 μmol·g–1 fresh weight (FW) over the 4 years of trials. There were nine varieties that were, for 2 years or more, among the greatest in percent marketable onions after 4.5 months of CA storage: `Georgia Boy', `Granex 1035', `Granex 33', `Ohoopee Sweet', `Sapelo Sweet', `Savannah Sweet', `Sweet Melissa', `Sweet Melody', and `SRO 1000'.

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