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AU: Onion scientist gives insight on scale of production in the US

International onion production information took centre stage at a recent Queensland gathering. About 50 local onion growers and packers from the Gatton area gathered to hear Dr Bill Dean Director of Research, Technology and Quality Control from River Point Farms located in the Columbia basin USA, speak.

He was joined by Simon Anstis from the South Australian Research & Development Institute, and the group was hosted by Michael Sippel from Terranova Seeds as part of a three day tour of the region.

The group discussed local issues and compared notes with how things were done back in the US. During their visit, a workshop was held at the Gatton Department of Primary Industries with 50 representatives from different areas of the onion industry.

The workshop incorporated a series of presentations. These included Clinton McGrath, Queensland DPI, who ran a series of questions aimed at increasing the awareness of what the major issues were for this season.

Dr Bill Dean gave a rundown on the extensive operations that occur at River Point Farms. With more than 5000 acres under onion production at the River Point Farms with all storage, packaging and processing done on site, the operations need to be done as efficiently as possible to ensure production goals are met. Dr Dean also provided an insight into how his company managed their onion nutrition requirements.

By comparing onion yield to fertilizer application rates, Dr Dean has been able to significantly cut back fertilizer use and suggested that excessive fertilizer use was apparent in Australian production. This represented one area of streamlining costs which could help to curb the rising cost of onion production.

Onions Australia Chairman Andrew Moon commended organisers for the highly informative and successful event.

“It is a credit to SARDI and Michael Sippel from Terranova that this event was so well attended,” he said. “What is even more heartening is that, following several years of hardship on onion farms, so many growers and packers made the effort to attend.”

For more information:
Lechelle Earl
Onions Australia
Tel: +61 0458 11 11 26

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