Which is the best onion variety to grow in Kenya?

Are you farmer looking for the best bulb onion variety to grow in Kenya?  There are 10 hybrid or F1 onion seed varieties available in the market today. These have been improved by the KARLO, seed companies and approved by KEPHIS to fit the current growing conditions in the region. As farmer you will get more yields and income if choose them for the following benefits.

  • Tolerance to increased ambient temperatures.
  • Fast growing to mature in reduced rainfall conditions and erratic rainfall patterns
  • Resistance to onion pests and diseases emergence due to climate change.

This post will give you the best bulb onions seeds in Kenya for your selection. You will get a summary of each seeds maturity period, yield per acre and other features. Besides there is a choosing guide for the factors to consider to choose the best for you this season.

How to choose the best onion seed

There are no good crop yields without quality seeds. But with so many alternatives available in the market you can be overwhelmed. In our guide to choose the best planting seeds for your garden, we propose you consider following factors;

  • Your farm location; Grow onions seeds most suitable for your agro-ecological location. A variety like Bombay red is suited to do well in diverse agro- climate zones
  • Yield potential; For commercial onion farming, grow a variety that promises highest yield and profitability. As shown below the Neptune F1 variety will give you 16 tons per acre while Red Pinoy F1 can get you 30 tons in same location.
  • Days to Maturity; Are you looking for an early or late maturing onion variety. The table below shows onions are ready to harvest from transplanting in 80-120 days. In areas with rain stress, grow an early maturing seed variety.
  • Shelf life: Some onions have long shelf life of up to 6 months. These are loved by traders, transporters and retailers for it reduces their business losses to bruising, rotting or germinating.
  • Resistance and tolerance to onion diseases and pests. Grow an onion variety which can withstand infections of pink rot disease, thrips or purple blotch. It will cut use of pesticides saving you on cost of production.

Summary of best onion seed varieties in Kenya

List of hybrid onion seeds in Kenya and Uganda

The 10 seed varieties in Kenya are presented in the table below. It compares their maturity period in days after transplanting, Yield potential per acre and their seed supplier.  The best onion varieties in Kenya and Uganda are the Bombay Red and the Red Creole

Best characteristics of bulb onion varieties in Kenya

The table above is a summary of 11 onion varieties in Uganda and Kenya. Why should you select any of their seeds this season? In this section, learn the detailed features for each seed variety.

Bombay Red

Onion Improved Bombay Red

Bombay Red is an open pollinated onion variety with green glossy prostate leaves, small-bulbs with a deep purple red color. The variety is suited to diverse agro- climate zones. The neck dries easily leading to proper curing, long shelf life and easy packaging and transportation. Bombay red has relative resistance to Iris Yellow Spot Virus disease. More over the use of pesticides for thrip control is reduced leading to increased profits.

Jambar F1

Jambar F1 is a red onion variety that matures in 90 days after transplanting, is easy to cure and dries well on the farm. It has high yield producing large bulbs preferred by the hotel industry and institutions. For the above features it has a high demand for making “kachumbari” or the vegetable salad in hotels and Nyama choma joints. Jambar can be grown in open field and green houses.

Neptune F1

Neptune F1 onion

The onion variety Neptune F1 is a hybrid variety that is drought tolerant, is resistant to pink rot disease, is early maturing, and has a long shelf life, small bulbs and good taste. More over a long shelf life and small bulb size is preferred by retailers hence increasing the market demand for the product. The onion variety Neptune F1 has all these attributes and is preferable in the market

Red Coach F1

Red Couch F1 is a hybrid variety, with good flavor. It has low fat/cholesterol content and is rich in dietary fibre, minerals, vitamins and folate. It is good for sliced or chopped vegetable salads.

Red Creole

Red Creole onion seeds

Red Creole is a medium maturing, open-pollinated short-day red onion variety tolerant to pink rot disease and drought. It does well in low altitude areas with full sun and minimal rainfall even in hot months like January. The bulbs are small to medium size with a shelf life of up to three months.

It is one of the most common variety besides the Bombay red.  You can grow it for following benefits

  • It high yielding with a potential of 15-28 tons per acre.
  • The slightly pungent taste, increases its preference by consumers
  • Its long shelf life increases its preference by traders, transporters and retailers
  • small to medium bulb size means there will be more bulbs in a net preferred by consumers which can cook a piece per meal

Red Nice F1

Onion variety Red nice F1 is a hybrid variety with small sized deep red bulbs, suited diverse agroecological zones, with excellent curing and storage. The variety is resistant to purple blotch.

Red Passion F1

Onion variety Red Passion F1 is a hybrid variety with medium sized deep red bulbs, suited to low and medium altitude areas, with excellent curing and storage. The variety is resistant to pink rot and purple blotch. It matures 90 days after transplanting and is preferred in the market for long shelf life of up to 5  months.

Red Pinoy F1

Red pinoy onion
Red pinoy onion seeds

Red Pinoy is an early maturing open pollinated variety with small bulbs, adapted to diverse agro-ecological zones. It has a yield potential of 25-30 tons and shelf life of up to six months at room temperatures. The variety is resistant to downy mildew and purple blotch.

Why choose the Red Pinoy variety?

  • Resistance to two of the common diseases, downy mildew and purple blotch.
  • small bulbs are preferred by retailers who may sell per piece giving it high demand
  • Early maturing variety at 90 days (3 months) after transplanting.

Red Star F1

Onion variety Redstar F1 is a hybrid variety with small sized deep red bulbs, suited to a wide range of altitude areas, with excellent curing and storage. The maturity period is 90 days after transplanting, the bulb size is 3-6 cm diameter and a yield of 25 tons per acre.

The onion variety Redstar F1 is early maturing, high yielding and suited to diverse climate conditions. The small bulb size makes it suitable for retailers who may want to sell per piece hence its preference in the market.

Texas Grano

TEXAS EARLY GRANO 502 Conventional Seeds, ONION YELLOW ⋆ De Corato Sementi
Texas Grano onion variety

Texas Early Grano is an open pollinated onion variety It has a white golden scaled large bulbs and a mild pungency with an excellent tasting flavor. This variety matures in 120 days after transplanting, is well adapted to diverse agro-ecological zones, and has some resistance to pink rot and a shelf life of up to 120 days. The bulbs are large.

Tropicana F1

Tropicana F1 onion is Very productive hybrid sed. It produces large red, thick flat bulbs with firm pungent taste. The variety has a Yield Potential of 25 tons per acre with a short Maturity period of 90 -100days after transplanting.

Samuel S.K.

S.K is the founder and senior agribusiness development consultant at Agcenture. He can be reached at info@agcenture.com

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