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Onion (Allium cepa L.) belongs to the family Alliaceae; it is one of the most important commercial vegetable grown widely in Rabi, Kharif and late Kharif in the different parts of the country.

Onion bulbs having characteristic odour, flavour and pungency, which is due to the presence of a volatile oil – allyl-propyl-disulphide.  Pungency is formed by enzymatic reaction when tissues are broken.

It is used as salad and cooked in many ways in curries, fried, boiled, baked and used in making soups, pickles; dehydrated onions and onion flakes as Value addition.

Onion bulb is rich in minerals like phosphorus (50 mg / 100 g) and calcium (180 mg / 100 g) along with onion have many medicinal uses in cardio vascular, diabetes, respiratory tracts, cancer, diuretic, wounds and boils and also prevent from sun stock.

India is the second largest producers of onion in the world after China, with 22.5 million tonnes produced in 2016-17. The key onion producing states Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Gujarat contribute over 50 percent of all India production, with Maharashtra alone accounting for over 30 percent of India's onion production.

The other significant contributors are M.P., Bihar, A.P and Rajasthan.Onion is cover more than 70 percent of export earning share from of vegetable commodities from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Arabian Gulf Countries. 

Species of Onion

The following types of onions are grown in India:

  1. Allium cepa var. cepa (common onion) – with large bulbs born singly and propagated through seeds. It is mainly used as salad or in curries.
  2. Allium cepa var. aggregatum (multiplier onion or potato onion) – producing small size bulbs in clusters and generally propagated through small bulbs. Mainly used for seasoning curries.
  3. Allium cepa var. ascalonicum (Shallot) – it Produces bulbs in clusters on surface of soil and it is in perennial nature rarely produces seeds and is propagated through bulbs.
  4. Allium cepa var. viviparaum / proliferum (tree onion or Egyptian onion) – This isviviparous plant produces a perennial underground bulb. The bulb-lets produced in place of umbel are used for pickling and seasoning.
  5. A. schoenoprasum (Chive) (2n=16, 24, 32). it is a hardy perennial bunching herb grown for their hollow green leaves. It is tolerant to extreme cold and drought; propagated by root division.
  6. A. fistulosum - A Perennial bunching species, is very common in China and Japan and is grown for its edible tops and leaf bases.

Improved varieties of Onion

Most of the improved varieties of onion were developed through mass selection from local collections of segregating populations.  The onion varieties  differ in size, color of skin, pungency and maturation etc. of bulbs. 

Large sized bulbs are mild in pungency, sweet in taste as compared to small sized onions.

Red colored cultivars are more pungent than silver skinned varieties and keep better in storage. Yellow cultivars have less demand in the market. A brief description of improved varieties of onion are given below:

Variety Characters
Developed by IARI, New Delhi
Pusa Red Red color, bulb weight 70-90 g, less pungent, good keeping quality, TSS 12-13%, yield 25-30 t/ha in 125-140 DAT.
Pusa Ratnar Bronze deep red, less pungent and good keeping quality, yield 32.5-35 t/ha in 145-150 DAT.  
Pusa White Round Bulbs medium to large, attractive round, good keeping quality, suitable for dehydration, yield 32.5 t/ha in 125-140 DAT.
Pusa White Flat Good for dehydration and green onion, yield 33-35 t/ha.
Pusa Madhavi Bulbs light red, good keeping quality, yield 30-40 t/ha.
Early Grano Yellow colored, mild pungency, suitable for salad and green onion purpose, poor keeping quality, yield 50-60 t/ha in 95 DAT.
Pusa Riddhi Rich in antioxidant (quercetin-107.42 mg/100g), high pungent, yield 31.66 t/ha with bulb weight of 70-100 g. Suitable for kharif and rabi season.
Developed by IIHR, Bangalore
Arka Pargathi Deep pink with high pungency, early variety,good storage quality,  yield 45 t/ha in 130 DAT
Arka Bindu(Rose onion)) Bulbs small, crimson red color with 12.5% TSS, yield 25 t/ha in 90-95 DAT
Arka Bheem A tri-parental synthetic variety, red to pink color,bulb weight 120 g, yield 47 t/ha from 130 DAT.
Arka Niketan Bulbs globular and pink with a weight of 100-180g, thin neck, highly pungent, TSS 12-13%, good storage quality.  Yield 42 t/ha in 145 DAT
Arka Ujjwal Dark red color, TSS 16-18Bo with 14-16% dry matter, yield 20-25 t/ha in 85 DAT(short duration)
Arka Kalyan  Deep red color, Kharif season, TSS 11-13 Bo, yield 47 t/ha in 140 DAT, moderately resistant to purple blotch disease
Arka Akshay A tri-parental synthetic variety, dark Red color, globe shaped bulbs,bulb weight 115 g and yield 45 t/ha in 130 DAT.
Arka Swadista White colored variety suitable for fermentation and bottle preservation, bulbs small in size (3-3.5 cm) with bulb weight 30-40 g, TSS 18-20%, dry matter content 15-18%, yield 16-18 t/ha in 105 DAT
Arka Sona Yellow colored, globe shape bulbs weight 140 g, TSS 10Bo, yield 45 t/ha in120 DAT, suitable for export and rabi season.
Arka Lalima F1 hybrid between MS-48 x Sel.14-1-1, red colored, globe shape, tolerances to purple blotch, basal rot diseases and thrips infestation,suitable for kharif and rabi seasons and yield 50 t/ha from 130-140 DAT.
Arka Kirthiman It is F1 hybrid between MS-65 x Sel.13-1-1, red colored bulbs with 120-130 g weight, tolerance to purple blotch, basal rots disease and thrips, suitable for both kharif and rabi seasons, yields 47 t/ha in 125-130 DAT.
Arka Pitambhar It is pedigree selection from the cross U.D.102 x IIHR-396, yellow color, TSS 11 Bo,  tolerances to purple blotch, basal rot diseases and thrips, suitable for export purposeand both kharif and rabi seasons, yield 35 t/ha in 140 DAT.
Developed by DOGR, Pune
Bhima Light Red  Red color,rabi season for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,bulbsweight 70 g,TSS 13Bo,yield 38.5 t/ha in 115 DAT, It is almost free of doubles and bolters.
Bhima Dark Red Kharif season, yield is 20-22 t/ha in 95-100 DAT.  
Bhima Raj  A dark red onion for kharif and late kharif season, yield 25-30 t/ha in 120-125 days.
Bhima Red  Red colorrabi and kharifseason,maturity is 105-110 DAT during kharif and 110-120 DAT during late kharif and rabi seasons, yield 19-21 t/ha (kharif season),48-52 t/ha (late kharifseason) and 30-32 t/ha (rabi season). It can be stored up to 3 months in rabi.  
Bhima Super A red color, Kharif and late kharif, yield 20 - 22 t/ha in kharif and 40-45 t/ha in late kharif.
Bhima Kiran A light red color, rabi season, yield 41.5 t/ha in 130 DAT. The variety has better storage up to 5-6 months. 
Bhima Shweta White color, rabi season, TSS 11-12B0, yield 26-30 t/ha in 110-120 DAT. 
Bhima Shubra White color, late Kharif season, TSS 10-120B and yield 36-42 t/ha in 120-130 DAT. 
Developed by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
Punjab  Selection  Red color, globular shape, good keeping quality, yield 30 t/ha.
Punjab Red Round Shining red color, globular, medium size with thin neck, yield 28-30 t/ha.
S-148 Bulbs white, flat round, average weight 80 g, TSS 12-13%, good storage quality, yield 25-30 t/ha in 140 DAT.
Punjab Naroya Red color, medium to large, round with thin neck, tolerant to purple blotch, yield 37.5 t/ha in 123 DAT
Developed by National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), Nasik
Agrifound Dark Red Dark red color, moderate pungent, suitable for Kharif season and mature in 95-110 DAT
Agrifound Light Red Light red color, good keeping quality and suitable for processing (dehydration), suitable for Rabi season and mature in 110-120 DAT
Agrifound White Silvery white color, with good keeping quality and suitable for processing (dehydration), suitable for Rabi and late kharif season of Maharashtra, M.P. and Gujrat, mature in 110-130 DAT,
Developed by MaharanaPratap University of Agriculture and Technology (MPUAT), Udaipur
Udaipur-101 Dark red color, sweet with less pungency,Rabi season, yield  20-30 t/hain 150-160 DAT.
Udaipur-102 White color, round to flat in shape, TSS 12 Bo,yield 30-35 t/ha in120 DAT.
Udaipur-103 Dark red variety with an average yields of about 25-30  t/ha
Developed by Sri Karan Narendra Agriculture University (SKNAU), Jobner
RO-1  Copper red color, rabi season and also suitable for kharif season in Rajasthan, resistance to purple blotch and moderately resistant to stem phylium blight diseases andyield 36 t/ha.
RO-59(Arpita) Red color, suitable for both rabi and kharif season in Rajasthan, moderately resistant to purple blotch disease, yield 35 to 40 t/ha.
RO-252 (Swati) Red color, suitable for both rabi and kharif season in Rajasthan.
Developed by Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCS HAU) Hissar
Hisar-2 Bronze-red color, good keeping quality, yield 20-25 t/ha.
Hisar Onion-3 Tight skin with thin neck, low bolting habit,good storage life, yield 32-35 t/ha
Hisar Onion-4 Rose red color, low bolting habit (5.4%), high TSS (14.2%), yield 31.2-32 t/ha.
Developed by Mahatma PhuleKrishiVidyapeeth (MPKV), Rahuri
N-53(Nishad-53) Red color,Kharif season, less pungent and yield 15-20 t/ha.
Baswant-780 Crimson red bulbs,TSS 12Bo TSS , yield , 25 t/ha from 125 DAT.
N-2-4-1  Red color, good keeping quality, TSS 12-13Bo, yields 30 t/ha from 140 DAT.
N-257-9-1  White color, rabi season, suitable for dehydration, yields 25 t/ha from 125 DAT.
Developed by Tamil-Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore
Co-1 Light red color, yield 12 t/ha from 65 DAT.
Co-2  Light red color, moderately resistant to thrips and purple blotch disease,yield 12 t/ha 60-65 DAT.
MDU-1  10-11 lateral bulbils,moderately resistant to lodging, yield 15 t/ha from 60-65 DAT.



Vidya Bhati

Ph.D. (Horticulture)

Department of Horticulture, SKRAU, Bikaner

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