Trial onion plots at Oregon State University Malheur Experiment Station look healthy this year partly because of fortunate timing.
Director Stuart Reitz said planting occurred on time in the trial plots at the station south of Ontario. Some onion growers in the region planted late because of heavy spring rains.
“The trial was planted at the usual time in late March. We dodged bullets with spring rains,” he said. “We were not late and we had good soil conditions.”
More than 50 trial varieties will be showcased at the station’s free annual Onion Variety Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 27.
Reitz said some varieties have been in the trial for years and serve as benchmarks. New varieties are planted as companies release them. They are compared to established types and each other as to growth efficiency, disease resistance, bulb shape and other factors.
Onion Variety Day “gives everybody an opportunity to see how one variety performs relative to another,” he said.
Participants can learn how a variety performed in current and previous years. Extras are planted so people can handle plants and bulbs and cut onions open.
Sizes this year are in line with long-term averages, in contrast to the oversized onions seen last year, Reitz said. Onions look good overall. Pest and disease pressure have varied by onion variety but have not been extreme.
“Weather conditions have been pretty favorable,” he said. The number of growing-degree days, with ideal temperatures for production, recently have been behind year-ago levels but in line with, or slightly ahead of, long-term averages.