Plant Answers  >  The Story of the “Mother” ‘Grano 502’ Onion

The Story of the “Mother” ‘Grano 502’ Onion



The beginning of the Texas onion breeding program and the origin of the “Mother” ‘Grano 502’ which was in the parentage of all SuperSweet onions such as Granex (Vidalia, Maui Maui and NoonDay) and the Texas A&M 1015Y and others is told by Ernest Mortensen, horticulturist extraordinaire and a man who was there, to Jerry Parsons, Texas Agricultural Extension Service Horticulturist, for the October 28, 1979, San Antonio Light Newspaper: The beginning of the Texas onion breeding program and the origin of the Mother "Grano 502" which was in the parentage of all SuperSweet onions such as Granex (Vidalia, Maui Maui and NoonDay) and the Texas A&M;1015Y and others is told by Ernest Mortensen, horticulturist extraordinaire and a man who was there, to Jerry Parsons, Texas Agricultural Extension Service Horticulturist, for the October 28, 1979, San Antonio Light Newspaper:

"Horticulturists of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (Crystal City, Texas) used crossing techniques to improve tomatoes, cantaloupes, and strawberries. Our main crop, onions, are not easy to cross since they have large flower heads, so we didn't attempt much in onion breeding. We had good relations with Dr. Fabian Garcia, Director of the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station, and he had obtained a high yielding variety from Spain from which he had selected a strain for New Mexico he named Grano (Babosa). We tried this and when our grower neighbors saw the trial, they ordered all the seed available. In 1938, the Byrd Cattle company at Winter Haven, Texas had 10 to 15 acres of the Grano. This variety required a longer day to form bulbs and was 10 to 14 days later than Bermuda. This is a market disadvantage which tended to offset the much higher yield."

"We also had good relations with Dr. Henry A. Jones, onion breeder for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He advised us that earliness in onions is a recessive character and will reproduce in successive generations. Mr. Leslie R. Hawthorn, vegetable specialist at the Winter Garden Station, obtained permission from the Byrd Cattle Company to harvest all the early maturing bulbs on a certain date. He and his assistant, Oneal Blackard, spent one day harvesting all the bulbs that had matured in the whole field. This amounted to 4 or 5 bushels which were then stored in our station barn. Temperatures were high that summer, so many of them rotted, more than half. They were then sent to Greeley, Colorado, for increasing the seed."

"These seeds were planted for the 1940 crop and there proved to be enough plants for one acre. In the spring of 1940, I was making my customary tour of the farm and came upon this block of onions in the midst of the rest with all of the tops down indicating maturity at the same time. I had forgotten these Granos and wondered what had happened so I hastened to the office to inform Hawthorn. Then we found that this selection was 10 days to two weeks earlier than the normal Bermuda types grown at that time. In addition, because of the large tops, the yield was much higher. Large bulbs were in demand in those days so the seed was soon multiplied by the commercial seedsmen. The original field number was 502 so the name Texas Grano 502 was first used and, in most cases, still is in use. Officially, the name of the onion released by Texas A&M; University in 1944 is Texas Early Grano. This has been grown in Central America, Palestine, Australia and other parts of the warmer regions of the world." ....... Ernest Mortensen (deceased)



DESCRIPTIONS OF OPEN-POLLINATED VARIETIES RELEASED BEFORE 1960

Early Grano (Babosa). The bulbs are top shaped and have very few thin to medium-thick pale-yellow scales. The flesh is soft and very mild in flavor. Early Grano is somewhat resistant to thrips, but very susceptible to pink root fungus. The variety bolts much less readily than Yellow Bermuda and Crystal Wax in Texas when planted at the same time. It is a heavy yielder in the absence of pink root. Matures later in South Texas areas than the Yellow Bermuda.

The Early Grano onion was imported originally from Valencia, Spain, in 1925 under the name Valencia Grano 9452. As indicated by Ernest Mortensen, the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station grew seed from the original lot and made selections. The name Early Grano was proposed for the selected strain in 1931 in bulletin 193 of the New Mexico Experiment Station.

Excel (986) is a single-plant selection from Yellow Bermuda that was developed and introduced in 1945 cooperatively by the USDA and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.

Texas Early Grano 502. Characteristics of Texas Early Grano 502 are similar to those of Early Grano except that it is more uniform and matures much earlier. The tops are not as heavy as those of Early Grano and the foliage is more upright. The bulbs are broader and not as pointed at the root end as those of Early Grano. Like other strains of Early Grano, it is very susceptible to pink root. However, on good soil where pink root is not a factor, it will produce tremendous yields. Early Grano matures along with Excel in south Texas.

A selection out of Early Grano was released by the Texas Station as Texas Grano in 1944. (1) An earlier selection with small upright tops was released in 1947 as Texas Early Grano 502 to replace the original release.

Yellow Bermuda. Bulbs are flat with very few thin, shiny, pale-yellow scales that are soon broken and lost in handling. The flesh is soft and mild in flavor. The bulbs reach a diameter of 3 to 3 1/2 inches when grown under irrigation.

The Bermuda onion with pale-yellow skins was first listed by Peter Henderson &;Co. in 1888 as White Bermuda. D. Landreth &;Co. for 1890 says that although shipped as White Bermuda it really "had quite a yellowish character" and, although known as a product of Bermuda, is of Italian origin.

The F1 Hybrid Named Granex (later to be claimed as Vidalia) Released Before 1960 -- One Of The Most Famous Onions In The World!

Granex. A yellow, F1 (first-generation), Bermuda-type hybrid. Bulbs are intermediate in shape between Bermuda and Grano. Resistance to pink root is intermediate between the two parents. This hybrid is very mild in flavor, which makes it a good salad onion. Early Grano is 3 to 5 days earlier than Excel.

Granex, developed cooperatively by the USDA and the Texas Station, was released in 1952. The female or seed parent was developed from Excel and is similar to Excel except that it is male - sterile. The pollen parent, Texas Early Grano 951, is an inbred out of Texas Early Grano 502 (2). Texas Grano 1015Y is an improved selection from 951.

 


Listen to the Garden Show live!
Saturday & Sunday from Noon-2PM
Call (210) 308-8867 or (866) 308-8867
and have your gardening questions answered
- during show hours ONLY -
Milberger's Gardening South Texas
on 930 AM THE ANSWER
Hosts: Dr. Calvin Finch, Dr. Jerry Parsons, and
Milton Glueck, radio personality and host
Last weekend's shows ON PODCAST
Podcast Logo
Milberger's Specials
On Sale This Week | Newsletter Signup
Local Gardening Events
Open 9 to 6 Monday-Saturday & 10 to 5 Sunday
3920 N. Loop 1604 E.  San Antonio, TX 78247
Phone: (210) 497-3760
Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604.
Next to the Valero station.
Email Us | Map & Directions
Copyright © 2022 PLANTanswers.com - All Rights Reserved. PLANTanswers and PLANTanswers.com are trademarks of Jerry Parsons.