Strategic Centre for Field Vegetables - Onions

Sam Rix
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About Strategic Centre for Field Vegetables - Onions

  • The Strategic Centres for Field Vegetables showcased research and technology that was carried out to improve integrated pest management (IPM) strategies.
  • There were demonstration sites around the UK, which focused on four key crops; carrots, peasonions and brassicas.
  • The Strategic Centres for Field Vegetables built on the success of AHDB’s variety trial programme, by expanding to incorporate grower-led research trials.

There were two trial locations for onions: Norfolk and Essex.

Work Programme and results for the 2020 season

In 2020 the Strategic Centre for onions consisted of two variety trials of drilled onions, on different soil types. After harvest varieties are tested under ambient and cold storage and then assessed for storage rots and yield coming out of store.

Growers decided that evaluation of potential new herbicides was particularly important to them and so herbicide trials on two different soil types were conducted.

For the full report on each work area, go to the Strategic Centre for Field Vegetables project page.

Onion Variety trials

Since 2000 over 333 drilled and 50 set varieties have been tested.

In 2020, 22 brown and 11 red varieties of drilled onions were evaluated in the main trial with three replications and two red varieties and one pink variety were evaluated in the preliminary trial with two replications. Seven seed companies were represented.

Trials were drilled / harvested: Norfolk 11 March / 26 August and Essex 23 March / 3 September.

There were low visual levels of disease incidence in the field.

Take home messages:


  • Lower establishment at Essex 
  • Good early vigour
    • Medusa, Fasto, Shakito
    • Redspark, 37-219, 37-222, 37-175, Red Herald 
  • Good mid-season vigour
    • Shakito, Packito, Hypark, Centro, Hyway
    • Red Light, Red Herald, Redspark, Red Tide


  • Some varieties out of sequence due to the season
  • Numbito earliest
  • Consistently earliest maturing brown varieties are Medusa, Hybound, Numbito and Hybing
  • Shakito and Nation also earlier end of spectrum
  • earliest reds are 37-219, Ruby Star, 37-222 and Red Light

Yield – it was an average yielding year for the trials in general 

  • Medusa, Motion and Fasto high yielding (>60mm)
  • Red Light, Red Ray and EX07714593 highest yielding reds

Onion Rings 

  • Best browns are Hybound, SVND0233, Fasto, Centro, Hyway, Hytech, Hysky, Hylander and Hyroad
  • Best reds are 37-219 and Redspark and Red Tide


  • Ambient storage
    • Hyway, Hyroad, Hysky
    • Ruby Star, Red Tide, Red Baron and Retano
  • Cold storage
    • Numbito, Hyway and Hyfive
    • Red Tide, Red Baron, 37-123

Newer varieties to look out for:

  • Nation (SG8360)
    • Prelim in 2019
    • Early maturity; very good storage
  • Promotion (SG8359)
    • Prelim in 2019
    • Main crop maturity; good yield; good storage
  • 37-219
    • Prelim in 2019 (only 1 site)
    • Early maturity; low yield
  • Red Ray
    • Prelim in 2020; previously seen in set trials
    • Main crop maturity; good yield
  • Redlander
    • Prelim in 2020
    • Mildew tolerance; later maturity
  • EX07714593
    • New in main trial in 2020
    • Later maturity; high yield; some bolters
  • Isobel Rose
    • Prelim in 2020
    • No fresh seed so poor establishment so difficult to assess fairly

Onion herbicide trials 2020

Two herbicide trials were conducted, on different soil types.

Herbicide programmes were based on BOPA R&D panel advice then tweaked by local agronomist.  There were eight different treatments, at three spray timings, including an untreated control and the commercial standard spray programme.

Evaluations were population counts, weed counts and phytotoxicity.

Results of both the variety and herbicide trials are available in the reports which can be found on the Strategic Centre for Field Vegetables project page.

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