RESEARCHERS AT the National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) have released an onion variety named Agrifound Light Red. The bulbs of this variety are globular in shape with tight skin and of light red colour. The crop can be harvested in 160-165 days after sowing and is recommended for growing in South India during the Rabi season (October-January).Being a transplantable crop the seeds are first sown on raised nursery beds. The nursery beds should be 5-20 cm in height and of 70-75 cm width with any convenient length.
The bed should be drenched with 4-5 gm of thiram or capton per sq. metre. About 2,500 gm of Trichoderma viride fungal culture mixed with about 250 kg of farmyard manure (FYM) or sieved moist soil applied to the nursery beds will manage damping off infestation (fungal infestation) and produce healthy seedlings.The seeds should be sown 5-7 cm apart in straight lines on the raised beds. Before sowing, the seeds should be treated with 2gm of thiram per kg of seeds.
About 10kg of seeds are required for sowing in one hectare. The nursery bed should be irrigated immediately after sowing and covered with dry paddy straw, grass or sugarcane leaves to maintain required temperature and moisture till germination is completed. The seeds germinate in a week's time and are ready for transplanting in 8-9 weeks.About 50 tonnes of FYM, 200 kg of calcium ammonium nitrate, 300 kg of single super phosphate and 100 kg of potassium sulphate or muriate of potash should be applied to the main field and ploughed well into furrows. The ideal time for transplanting the seedlings is mid-December to January. The seedlings should be transplanted at a spacing of 15 x 10cm (that is 15 cm between the rows and 10 cm between plants in a row). Light irrigation must be done immediately after transplanting. Lack of irrigation at the time of transplanting may cause 100 per cent mortality of the crop.Weedicide such as stomp at the rate of 3.5 litres in 800 litres of water sprayed three days after transplanting and one manual weeding done after 45 days have been found useful in controlling the weed menace.
The crop can be successfully grown with sprinkler irrigation or drip irrigation. About 100 kg of urea should be applied in two split doses on the 30th and 50th day of planting. Spraying one per cent polyfeed on the 15th, 30th and 45th day and one per cent multik on the 60th, 75th and 90th day of planting increases yield.The crop is affected by thrip infestations. Spraying 750 ml of malathion diluted in 750 litres of water is effective in controlling the thrips. To control purple blotch and stemphilium blight, spraying indofil M-45 at 2.5 kg per hectare is effective.The crop requires about 3-4 months period for the bulbs to develop properly after which it may be harvested and kept under shade for a few days for drying. Late harvesting should be avoided to prevent bulb splitting. Irrigation should be stopped 10 days before harvesting to check the growth and to enable the bulbs to become firm and compact.
From one hectare about 30-35 tonnes of onion can be harvested. Farmers need an initial capital of about Rs. 30,000 for cultivating this crop. They can expect a net return of Rs. 40-45,000 in a period of 3 to 4 months.For more information readers can contact Mr. A.B. Chougule, Deputy Director, National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation, Agriculture Market Committee Premises, Kurnool 518003, Andhra Pradesh, phone: 08518-257688.