Submitted to: Onion Research National Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 25, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The USDA has supported work on the breeding and genetics of onion since the 1930s. The program was initially directed by Dr. Henry Jones and was located in Beltsville, Maryland. Since 1968, the USDA onion-breeding program has been located in Madison, Wisconsin. For over 50 years, the USDA program concentrated on the development of superior inbreds and hybrids. Our commitment to the development of superior inbreds continues, although we are spending little time on hybrid development. At the time of Dr. C.E. Peterson's death, there were over 30 numbered inbreds from fertile-by-fertile crosses with little to no information on the selection criteria during inbreeding. Over the last 10 years, I systematically evaluated the combining ability, disease resistance, and phenotype of all experimental inbreds assigned numbers by the late Dr. Peterson. Almost all numbered experimental inbreds were poor combiners for yield, were extremely tall, or possessed some other deficiency. Three inbreds of merit, B1717 A&B, B1828 A&B, and B2354 A&B, were distributed to seed companies by Dr. Peterson before his death and were never formally released by either the USDA or the University of Wisconsin Experiment Station. We have requested permission from both research entities to formally release these inbreds. We continue to develop inbred onion populations, concentrating on red A&B pairs and Spanish ? storage crosses. Synthetic populations from superiorly combining inbreds have been synthesized and are being subjected to recurrent selection for low pungency and enhanced frequency of haploid production.