Quality the target for Tasmania onions

Quality the target for Tasmania onions

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GROWTH: Agronico agronomist Peter Targett, Devonport, Tasmania, said Fontelis fungicide formed the backbone of controlling botrytis and helping produce quality onions.

GROWTH: Agronico agronomist Peter Targett, Devonport, Tasmania, said Fontelis fungicide formed the backbone of controlling botrytis and helping produce quality onions.

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An agronomist talks up the potential of for Tassie onions.

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QUALITY onions are sought after in the European market are the main aim of Tasmania growers according to Devonport agronomist, Peter Targett.

Mr Targett, who works for agricultural company Agronico, said Europe was the major destination for Tasmanian onions and the trade had been built around quality.

“We have a clean, green image and a high quality producing reputation and most of our onions are exported to Europe," he said.

“Onions in the area and normally planted between late June and early October and harvested from late December through to early February."

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“For any crop you've got three main factors. You've got the environment, you've got the crop's natural enemies like pests and diseases and you've got the challenges of farming.

“We've got to work with the grower for his individual situation and make a plan that will work with him and also work at controlling the diseases and pests in the crop."

He said the major diseases in onions were white root rot, downy mildew and botrytis and for each of those issues there were different fungicide programs recommended and utilised.

In the case of botrytis, the DuPont Fontelis fungicide forms the backbone of the program and has done an excellent job in controlling the disease.

“Occasionally you might hear about an onion crop that hasn't had Fontelis and in every case it hasn't ended well,” Mr Targett said. 

I just know that if you don't put Fontelis on, your crop will end up like the stories that we've heard about. So we just put it on every single onion crop and we make sure it goes on. - Peter Targett, Agronico

“You've got to get the Fontelis on the plant so that you don't have any problems coming up in storage.  It is only after they're harvested that you are going to see the problems."

“I just know that if you don't put Fontelis on, your crop will end up like the stories that we've heard about.  So we just put it on every single onion crop and we make sure it goes on.”

He said the initial application of Fontelis was applied to the crop just prior to bulbing at the eight or nine true leaf stage and just prior to when the plant starts to fill out.

Mr Targett said a seed treatment on the onions generally took the crop to the four or five true leaf stage and then Fontelis could be applied at a time when the leaf area was at its maximum.

“If you get the Fontelis into the plant before it is harvested and before it starts to die back then the protection is there,” he said. 

“We use it twice in quick succession, so seven to ten days apart, and we find that works very well."

He said a good fungicide program did an excellent job of keeping the leaves clean of disease to maximise the yield and quality of the onion.

“We had a crop the other year where we actually needed the tops of the plants as well so they could bunch them up and string them together,” Mr Targett said.

“Fontelis and the other fungicides are what keep that top of the plant healthy - even when it is supposed to be dying and rotting away."

Mr Taggert said working with farmers to achieve high yielding and rewarding crops was a highlight of his job.

“My dad is a tradie and the best thing he says about his job is that everyone is pleased to see him because everyone has got a problem and he is there to fix it. 

“My whole job is to help the farmer get the best result he can and it is a real privilege to work with them to achieve that."

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