Basic guidelines for soil preparation and onion sowing

Tillage  and sowing

Sowing onions is a precise job because the seeds are fine and should not be sown too deep. We recommend sowing 1.5 to 2.5 cm deep on a firm moist soil. Before sowing, you first have to till the soil, of course. On sand, this means ploughing, digging and in some cases non-turning tillage. In all cases, ensure a flat seedbed.  The following applies to each type of tillage: make sure the soil does not dry out too deeply. We are dealing with drying weather, which means the top layer of the ploughed soil can dry out too much. After ploughing or spading, the soil must be “closed”. This means that when ploughing the soil, the seedbed is prepared immediately, so only the top layer dries but the seedbed remains sufficiently moist. If you use a furrow packer, we recommend combining this with a “follower” (a cross roller, or a Cambridge roller ,etc.). This way, the soil is also “closed” and the moisture remains at the top. This also applies to the aforementioned  tillages. Till the soil shortly before sowing.

When you start sowing, check at what depth the soil is moist and adjust the sowing depth accordingly. When sowing, check regularly whether the seeds are well pressed into the moist soil. Repeat this several times.

Plant numbers

Depending on the bed width and the number of rows, the seed is distributed. Regardless of the sowing system, the most ideal plant number is between 80-90 pl./m2. Plant number generally means a good yield, especially when varieties are used that have a relatively high specific weight, which means they are already heavy in themselves. The number of plants per linear metre is shown on the right, depending on the width of the bed and the number of rows per bed.

Thousand grain weight

The thousand grain weight of onion seed is always stated on the bags and can vary quite a bit. The risk is that too much or too little seed is sown, which can cause an irregular crop position.

When the seed drill is adjusted to a thousand grain weight of 4.2 grams and a following variety has a thousand grain weight of, for example, 3.6 grams, this can cause double seeds on the sowing discs if the suction pressure of the seeder is not adjusted accordingly, and therefore an irregularity in the position of the crop. So check this carefully!

Mineral administration

What the plant needs in terms of minerals to achieve its kilos, but also to continue to meet the right quality requirements is very important. When which mineral is needed and at which growth stage the plant has the greatest need for the elements is crucial for the quality and final yield. Talk to your fertiliser supplier/business consultant and ask what would be wise for each type of soil and variety. For example, if you grow onions on light sandy soil, this requires a different strategy in terms of mineral application than if you have onions on clay soil of 40% silt.

Development of Fusarium-Resistant Lettuce Varieties

Dr. Yaniv Rotem – Solanaceae Pathologist, Hazera Co.

 General Background

The fusarium disease in lettuce is a deadly wilt and collapse disease that is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lactucae.

The disease was first discovered in Japan in 1955 and has since spread to other countries around the world. Today, there are three known races of the fungus – races 1, 2 and 3.

Starting in 2008, we began encountering the phenomena of wilting and collapse in Israel, in the Besor region and other growing areas. The first identification of fusarium as a cause of wilting and collapse was made in 2009 in Hazera’s phytopathology laboratory, when the fungus F. oxysporum f. sp. lactucae was clearly identified through isolation from infected plants and through the performance of the Koch test. As part of the initial phase of our research work, it was also clearly defined that the fungus found in Israel is of Race 1.

Fusarium disease is particularly severe in summer, but over the years the intensity of the disease has increased in Israel and more and more affected fields are being seen, even in winter.

Symptoms of the Disease

Overall, the symptoms of the disease are similar to wilt diseases caused by fusarium in many other crops:

  • The first symptom of the onset of the disease is the appearance of yellowing in the leaves.
  • At a slightly later stage, we observe a loss of turgor of the plant, necrosis in the leaves, and finally, collapse of the entire plant.
  • When the root and stem of a lettuce plant affected by fusarium are cut, we see a characteristic red-brown color (internal browning).

Images 1, 2: Yellowing of leaves and collapse of lettuce plants in an infected field in the Besor region.

Image 3: Typical internal browning of the lettuce plant stem when damaged by fusarium.

Image 4: Performing the Koch test in the laboratory: On the left – lettuce seedlings infected with fusarium isolate that was isolated from an infected plant brought from the field, in which symptoms and collapse similar to those observed in the field can be seen. On the right – lettuce seedlings infected for comparison purposes with melon fusarium isolate (F. oxysporum f. sp. melonis), in which no damage is visible.

How Is the Disease Transmitted?

  • The disease is caused by a fungus that survives in the soil, mainly in the form of resting spores (chlamydospores) with thick walls that can survive in the soil for many years. When lettuce plants are planted in soil containing these chlamydospores – the mycelium regenerates from them, penetrates the roots of the developing plant, and enters the vascular system in the roots and stem.
  • During the season, the fungus is able to move underground from an infected plant to a healthy neighboring plant by moving between roots that are touching each other.
  • The fungus is able to spread in the field via water moving through the soil as well as on the equipment used to work the soil. Vehicles and agricultural equipment that are moved from field to field – enable the disease to be spread from an infected field to distant healthy fields.

Development of Fusarium-Resistant Lettuce Varieties

  • In the first stage – a number of preliminary experiments were conducted in which the exact method for infecting lettuce seedlings with fusarium was determined in a way that ensures the correct distinction between plants that are susceptible and plants that are resistant to the disease. The method developed enables laboratory testing of a large number of lettuce lines, identification of the resistant lines, and selection of the most resistant plants in order to progress to the next generation.
  • After that, hundreds of lettuce lines were screened in the laboratory in a series of experiments, and the most resistant lines among them were identified.
  • Concurrently with the laboratory work, experiments were conducted in an infected area in the Besor region. Comparison between the results of the laboratory experiments and of the field experiments showed a high correlation between the two methods.
  • In 2013 Hazera launched the first leaf lettuce variety that combines fusarium resistance with good quality – Asaf.
  • In the years that followed, Hazera developed additional resistant varieties: Raviv – a summer romaine, Ishtar – our senior winter romaine, Dikla – a romaine with hearts that are convenient for packing, Lior – a romaine with a large number of inner leaves, and also, Solo Mio – our crunchy iceberg lettuce.

For more information about Hazera’s lettuce varieties, click here.

Image 5: A resistant variety in comparison with a sensitive variety, in the cultivation area in the Besor region.

Image 6: Asaf – a fusarium-resistant variety by Hazera, in an infected area in the Besor region

New Deputy CEO of Hazera: “It is like a Marathon run, and we want to finish first!”

Since May 19th   2022, Ofer Peleg is the new Deputy CEO of Hazera. He will lead sales, supply chain, production and IT. “We have great ‘DNA’ in Hazera, but also opportunities and potential to become a well-integrated company and realize solid and robust processes.”

Ofer, fifty years old, lives near Tel Aviv, together with his wife and three children, aged 21, 18 and 13. He is used to work for several leading  companies in multicultural and dynamic environments. “I started as an industrial engineer in the pharma industry, and stayed there for about twenty years. At Teva pharmaceuticals, the Israeli global generic leader, I served in various positions in both R&D and Operations, where my last role was to manage three large facilities in Europe, for that role I moved with my family to Amsterdam for two years. After that I became vice-president of the Global supply chain at Sun pharmaceuticals , a global Indian pharma company. In the last four years I was the vice-president of the Global supply chain at Netafim, a global leader in precision irrigation. “At Netafim I focused on the same customers and ambition as Hazera; helping farmers to get the best out of their crops for both quantity and quality.”

Go the extra mile
“I got a very warm welcome, both at Hazera and Limagrain, there is a strong sense of partnership. The people I have met enjoy their profession and are very enthusiastic, willing to go above and beyond  to serve our customers. They know that by doing so, they are making the world a better place. Shortly after I started at Hazera, I was lucky to meet many of my colleagues at the annual Limagrain conference in Prague.

Marathon run

“I just started my learning, there is a huge knowhow and great professionalism here” says Ofer. But our competitors are not waiting for us, and we have to be agile, flexible and focus on quality. We can’t stop, not even for a minute; we are running a marathon and we want to finish first. There is also an opportunity for becoming a well-integrated company and realizing solid and robust processes.”

Way of working
“We produce seeds all over the world; How can we do this as efficient as possible? What is our optimal footprint?, How to optimize our inventory?  How can we  leverage our capabilities?  In my former positions I have helped answering similar kinds of questions. I’m looking forward to share my experience and contribute to Hazera.”