Bermudas into Vidaliasby
with a Little Help from Cotulla
"The world would be a boring place without the onion."
- Julia Child
may come as a surprise (readers who are easily surprised may find themselves astounded)
that the Onion is Texas' leading vegetable crop.
You were thinking maybe spinach? Tomatoes? Cantaloupe? No. It is, in truth, the
lowly but tasty little onion that brings in $70 to $100 million per year. Furthermore,
when all onion related activities are factored in - like crating, trucking, harvesting
and putting all those little stickers on each onion, the industry has a $350 million
per year impact on the Texas economy.|
It's generally accepted that sweet
onion production in Texas can be traced back to a
single packet of seed from Bermuda being planted near Cotulla
in 1898. It's also acknowledged that the Canary Islands (Teneriffe Island,in particular)
was the main supplier of onion seed up until 1946. Most atlases show the Bermuda
Islands and the Canary Islands to be something like 2,700 miles apart. This discrepancy
doesn't seem to bother most Texans: " Canary? Bermuda? What's the difference?
Just make sure there's enough for the chili."
Bermuda Onions - Texas Gulf Coast Country|
Reached by Rock-Island Frisco Lines"
courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
| Readers wanting
to investigate further may find that the onion known as "Bermuda" was first listed
on a manifest in 1888 as "White Bermuda" by exporters of the time. D. Landreth
&;Co., stated that "although [the onion is] known as a product of Bermuda, is
of Italian origin."|
back in Cotulla:
Those first Cotulla-raised onions found themselves shipped to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The people of Milwaukee have always appreciated good beer, sausage and onions.
When they ate those Texas onions they went wild. Word was sent back to Cotulla:
"Milwaukee needs onions!" Immediately Cotullans started removing cactus and began
planting more Bermudas.
In 1907 over a thousand boxcar-loads of onions
were shipped from Southwest Texas. The following year production doubled and in
1917 nearly 7,000 boxcar loads were shipped. The record for a single season was
just over 10,164 boxcar loads (1946) which was enough onions to fill the Roman
Coliseum up to the brim and still fill half of the broom closets in the Vatican.
The Canary Island farmers could barely keep up with the Texas
demand for onion seed. On top of this strain, inexperienced growers anxious to
cash in on the seed bonanza make mistakes, seriously decreasing the quality of
seed. This forced Texans to import seed from Spain and from this new source (in
the mid 1920s) came the variety known as Grano.
"The Mother of All Sweet
arrived in Texas about the time an onion-breeding
program in the Rio Grande Valley was in development. In 1933 the Texas Grano
502 came into being - an onion that is known in onion circles today as "The
Mother of All Sweet Onions"
Grano 502's name comes from the original
field number of 502, however, the onion was officially known as the "Texas
Early Grano." Since its introduction , this variety has been grown as far
away as Palestine (Israel - not Texas) and Australia.
VIDALIA ONION Toombs
County, Georgia is acknowledged to be the birthplace of the Vidallia Onion. Georgia
had been having a problem with weeds that were growing faster than the locally
planted onion sets. Texas transplants, it was hoped, would give the farmers a
much-needed head start and so Texas Granex onions from Carrizo
Springs (near Cotulla)
were shipped there in 1952. ... More
© John Troesser