New Mexico Onion Varieties

Circular 567

Christopher S. Cramer, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Department of Agronomy & Horticulture

College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences New Mexico State University

This publication is scheduled to be updated and reissued 7/05.

During the months of June and July, New Mexico supplies more than 50 percent of onions consumed in the United States (USDA 2000). Each year, New Mexico grows 7,000 to 8,000 acres of onions, producing 160,000 to 180,000 tons at a value of $40 million to $55 million. The per acre yield averages 920 50-pound sacks per acre.

Acreage, per acre yield, total production, and total value for the New Mexico onion crop have increased over the last 20 years. This increase can be attributed in part to improved varieties and improved cultural practices. The continued growth of the New Mexico onion industry requires well-adapted, high yielding, high quality varieties and the proper cultural practices to grow those varieties. The current cultural practices for growing onions in New Mexico have been presented by Corgan and his coworkers (2000). This guide will review the current onion varieties being grown in New Mexico. It will be revised as new varieties are evaluated.

Growers in New Mexico harvest onions from May 20 to September 15. Because a single onion variety has a harvest window of 7 to 10 days, multiple varieties with different maturity dates must be grown. New Mexico grows three separate onion crops: fall-seeded, transplanted, and spring-seeded. The fall-seeded crop is planted from September 15 to October 15 and harvested May 15 to June 20. Early-planted, fall-seeded varieties must possess high levels of bolting resistance to prevent yield losses to premature seedstalk formation.

The transplanted crop is seeded from October 1 to 20 in southern New Mexico and from November 15 to 30 in Arizona or south Texas. Transplants are placed from February 1 to March 1 and harvested from June 20 to July 10.

The spring-seeded crop is planted January 15 to March 1 and harvested from July 5 to August 15.

Growers in Deming, Columbus, Hatch, and Uvas areas plant their fall crop earlier and harvest each crop later than growers in the Las Cruces and Anthony areas.

Planting and harvest dates in this publication are for the Las Cruces area, so growers in other regions should adjust their planting and harvesting dates accordingly. Growers in eastern and northwestern New Mexico primarily plant a spring-seeded onion crop.

The desired characteristics of an onion variety grown in New Mexico vary depending upon the crop. However, all varieties must be well-adapted, be high yielding, possess moderate to high levels of pink root resistance, and possess high bulb quality.

Pink root resistance is necessary because most fields are infested with the organism causing pink root. Scale color for white varieties should be clear white, while scale color of red varieties should be dark red. Bulbs should possess multiple layers of scale that adhere to the bulb during grading. Early-planted, fall-seeded varieties must possess high levels of bolting resistance to prevent yield losses to premature seedstalk formation.

In the past, grano-shaped (top-shaped) onions were grown in New Mexico for the fall-planted crop, but round bulbs with less taper to the base currently are more desirable.

Short-day varieties grown for transplants must have a later maturity to produce large bulbs and also must possess some bolting resistance to prevent excessive bolting.

Fall-planted varieties grown as transplants mature one to two weeks later than when they are direct seeded. Spring-planted varieties grown as transplants mature one to two weeks earlier than when they are direct seeded.

In general, spring-planted varieties are more nearly round in shape, tend to have more scale, and tend to have a higher percentage of bulbs with single centers than fall-planted varieties.

FALL-PLANTED VARIETIES

Buffalo

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Poor. Highly susceptible. Must be planted on pink root?free land.
Bolting resistance: Excellent
Bulb shape: Thick, flat
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Excellent characteristics
Yield: Excellent

Cardinal

Maturity: Early June
Pink root resistance: Poor. Highly susceptible to pink root and Fusarium basal rot. Should be planted on pink root?free land for the greatest yield.
Bolting resistance: Excellent
Bulb shape: Flat globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Low
Scale: Excellent red color
Yield: High yield of large bulbs when grown on pink root?free land. Small bulbs and low yield on pink root?infested land.

Daybreak

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Excellent
Bolting resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Top-shaped with strong taper. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Fair
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Light in color. Thin. Several layers.
Yield: Excellent
Comments: Has been used for ring processing

Caribou

Maturity: Early June
Pink root resistance: Good
Bolting resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Globe to flat globe
Bulb firmness: Fair
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color. Multiple layers.
Yield: High percentage of marketable yield

Don Victor

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Excellent
Bolting resistance: Fair. Plant later than October 1 to prevent bolting.
Bulb shape: Globe to deep grano
Bulb firmness: Excellent
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color and texture. Multiple layers. Tends to be thick.
Yield: Excellent. Large bulbs.

NuMex Starlite

Maturity: Early June [late June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Good
Bolting resistance: Excellent
Bulb shape: Deep grano. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color
Yield: Excellent. Large bulbs. High percentage of marketable yield.
Comments: Performs well as a transplant. Produces low-pungency bulbs.

Excalibur

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Excellent
Bolting resistance: Fair. Plant later than October 1 to prevent bolting.
Bulb shape: Globe to flat globe with slight taper
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color
Yield: Very good. Large bulbs.

Texas Grano 1015Y

Maturity: Early June [mid-June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Excellent
Bolting resistance: Poor. Very susceptible to bolting when direct seeded.
Bulb shape: Globe to flat globe
Bulb firmness: Fair
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Light in color
Yield: High percentage of marketable yield. High yields as transplants.
Comments: Bulb has good overall appearance

Ibex

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Very good
Bolting resistance: Excellent
Bulb shape: Top-shaped bulbs. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color
Yield: Excellent

Texas Grano 1025Y

Maturity: Early June [Mid-June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Excellent
Bolting resistance: Poor. Very susceptible to bolting when direct seeded.
Bulb shape: Globe to flat globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Low
Scale: Good color
Yield: High percentage of marketable yield
Comments: Performs well as a transplant

Nikita

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Good
Bolting resistance: Fair. Plant later than October 1 to prevent bolting.
Bulb shape: Deep top-shaped bulbs. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color. Thin.
Yield: Excellent. Large bulbs. High percentage of marketable bulbs.

NuMex Dulce

Maturity: Mid-June [late June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Good
Bolting resistance: Very good
Bulb shape: Globe. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Poor
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: High
Scale: Good color
Yield: Excellent. Large bulbs.
Comments: Produces low-pungency bulbs. Performs well as transplant.

NuMex Mesa

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Excellent
Bolting resistance: Excellent
Bulb shape: Top-shape to high globe. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color. Thin.
Yield: Excellent

NuMex Vado

Maturity: Mid-June
Pink root resistance: Good
Bolting resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Globe. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Very good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color. Multiple layers.
Yield: Very good. Large bulbs.

NuMex Sweetpak

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Good
Bolting resistance: Fair. Plant later than September 30 to prevent bolting.
Bulb shape: Globe to flat globe. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: High
Scale: Good color. Thin.
Yield: Large bulbs
Comments: Produces bulbs with low pungency. Good selection for early maturing sweet onion.

NuMex Luna

Maturity: Late June
Pink root resistance: Good
Bolting resistance: Very good
Bulb shape: High globe. Some variability, including some elongated bulbs.
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Low
Scale: Multiple layers. Good color.
Yield: Large bulbs
Comments: Performs well as transplant. Late maturing.

Texas Early White

Maturity: Late May
Pink root resistance: Good
Bolting resistance: Poor. Plant later than October 5 to prevent bolting.
Bulb shape: Deep top shape. Some variability.
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Excellent white color
Yield: Large bulbs
Rating Scales
Pink root resistance: Poor - Fair - Good - Very good - Excellent
Bolting resistance: Poor - Fair - Good - Very good - Excellent
Bulb firmness: Poor - Fair - Good - Very good - Excellent
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Low - Moderate - High

 
 

SPRING-PLANTED VARIETIES

Aspen

Maturity: Early July
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Globe to flat globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good white color
Yield: Small bulbs
Comments: Susceptible to Fusarium basal rot

NuMex Casper

Maturity: Mid-July [late June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Excellent
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: High
Scale: Good white color
Yield: High. Large bulbs.
Comments: Performs well as a transplant. Transplant has good bolting resistance.

Caballero

Maturity: Early July
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Excellent
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color. Multiple layers.
Yield: High. Large bulbs. High percentage of marketable yield. Excellent quality.

Utopia

Maturity: Mid-July [late June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Fair
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color
Yield: High. Large bulbs. High percentage of marketable yield.
Comments: Good quality. Performs well as transplant. Excellent bolting resistance for a transplant.

Cimarron

Maturity: Early July [late June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color. Multiple layers.
Yield: High percentage of marketable yield
Comments: Performs well as transplant. Transplant has good bolting resistance. Produces high quality bulbs.

Armada

Maturity: Late July
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good quality
Yield: Medium. Excellent quality.
Comments: Very good handling characteristics

Navigator

Maturity: Early July
Pink root resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Round globe
Bulb firmness: Excellent
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color, multiple layers, thin
Yield: High. High percentage of marketable bulbs.
Comments: Only observed for one year.

NuMex Centric

Maturity: Late July [early July as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Globe. Uniform.
Bulb firmness: Fair
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: High
Scale: Good color
Yield: High. Large bulbs.
Comments: Early, sweet Spanish type. Performs well as a transplant. Good quality.

NuMex Bolo

Maturity: Early July [late June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: High
Scale: Good color
Yield: High percentage of marketable yield. High yield when direct seeded or transplanted. Performs best as a transplant. Transplant has excellent bolting resistance.
Comments: Very similar to 'NuMex Jose Fernandez'

Riviera

Maturity: Late July
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Flattened globe. Uniform.
Bulb firmness: Fair
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color and bulb finish
Yield: High. Large bulbs.
Comments: Good quality

NuMex Jose Fernandez

Maturity: Early July [late June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: High
Scale: Light colored
Yield: Produces a higher yield than 'NuMex Bolo' when grown as a transplant.
Comments: Early, sweet Spanish type. Very similar to 'NuMex Bolo' but matures slightly later.
Produces larger bulbs than 'NuMex Bolo' when direct seeded or transplanted.

Vega

Maturity: Late July
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good quality
Yield: Medium. Excellent quality.
Comments: Very good handling characteristics

Rio Gigante

Maturity: Early July
Pink root resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Deep grano with rounded tops
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color. Multiple layers.
Yield: High percentage of marketable bulbs
Comments: Only observed for one year

Ringmaster

Maturity: Early August
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Fair
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: High
Scale: Good color
Comments: Good handling characteristics

Sierra Blanca

Maturity: Early July
Pink root resistance: Good
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Very good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color
Yield: High percentage of marketable bulbs

Vaquero

Maturity: Early August
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good quality
Yield: High. Large bulbs.
Comments: Excellent quality. Good handling characteristics.

Candy

Maturity: Mid-July [late June as a transplant]
Pink root resistance: Fair
Bulb shape: Round globe
Bulb firmness: Good
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Moderate
Scale: Good color
Yield: Large bulbs
Comments: Performs well as transplant. Transplant has excellent bolting resistance. Good bulb quality.
Rating Scales
Pink root resistance: Poor - Fair - Good - Very good - Excellent
Bolting resistance: Poor - Fair - Good - Very good - Excellent
Bulb firmness: Poor - Fair - Good - Very good - Excellent
Percentage of single-centered bulbs: Low - Moderate - High

 
 
 
Table 1. Onion varieties and their seeding or transplanting dates to achieve onion harvest from May 20 to August 10 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Harvest date  Variety  Skin color  Seeding or transplanting date

May 20 to June 1
 
 
 
 
 
Buffalo
Daybreak 
Don Victor 
Excalibur
Ibex 
Nikita 
NuMex Mesa 
NuMex Sweetpak 
Texas Early White 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
White 
Seeded September 20
Seeded October 1
Seeded October 1
Seeded October 1
Seeded September 20
Seeded October 1
Seeded September 20
Seeded October 1
Seeded October 5

June 1 to June 10  Cardinal
Caribou 
NuMex Starlite
Texas Grano 1015Y
Texas Grano 1025Y 
Red
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Seeded September 25
Seeded September 25
Seeded September 25
Seeded October 5
Seeded October 5

June 10 to June 20  NuMex Dulce
Texas Grano 1015Y
Texas Grano 1025Y
NuMex Vado 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Seeded October 1
Transplanted February 15
Transplanted February 15
Seeded October 1

June 20 to July 1
 
 
 
 
 
 
Candy 
Cimarron 
NuMex Bolo
NuMex Casper 
NuMex Dulce
NuMex Jose Fernandez
NuMex Luna
NuMex Starlite
Utopia 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow
White
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow
Yellow 
Transplanted March 1
Transplanted March 1
Transplanted March 1
Transplanted March 1
Transplanted February 15
Transplanted March 1
Seeded October 1
Transplanted February 15
Transplanted March 1

July 1 to July 10
 
 
 
 
 
Aspen
Caballero
Cimarron 
Navigator 
NuMex Bolo 
NuMex Centric 
NuMex Jose Fernandez 
Rio Gigante
Sierra Blanca 
White
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
White 
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1
Transplanted March 1
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1

July 10 to July 20 Candy 
NuMex Casper
Utopia 
Yellow 
White 
Yellow 
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1

July 20 to August 1 Armada 
NuMex Centric
Riviera 
Vega 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Yellow 
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1

August 1 to August 10 Ringmaster
Vaquero
  White 
  Yellow 
Seeded February 1
Seeded February 1


 

References

Corgan, J. and M. Holland. 1990. Onion cultivars and planting dates for southern New Mexico. N. Mex. Agric. Ext. Guide H-229.
Corgan, J.N., M.M. Wall, C.S. Cramer, T. Sammis, B. Lewis, and J. Schroeder. 2000. Bulb onion culture and management. N.M. Coop. Exten. Serv. Circ. 563.
Cramer, C.S., J.L. Mendoza, and J.N. Corgan. 1998. Fall-planted onion variety trials at New Mexico State University, p. 299-312. In: R.E. Voss (ed.). Proc. 1998 Natl. Onion (and Other Allium) Res. Conf. Veg. Res. Info. Ctr., Univ. Calif., Davis, Calif.
Cramer, C.S., J.N. Corgan, J.L. Mendoza, and M.M. Wall. 2000. 1998-1999 Onion variety trials at New Mexico State University. N.M. Agric. Expt. Stn. Res. Rpt. 739.
U.S. Dept. Agr. 2000. Vegetables. 1999 Summary. Vg 1-2 (00). U.S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

Printed July 2000
Electronic Distribution September 2000