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Prize-winning Kelsae Onions

The Kelsae Onion

The Kelsae onion was first introduced to the seed trade in the early 1950's by the well-known Scottish seedsmen of that time, Laing & Mather from Kelso. This firm was taken over by Messrs Sinclair McGill Ltd, later trading as J Arthur Bowers and William Sinclair Horticulture. Over the last few years the rights to the Kelsae Onion have gone to Johnson's Seeds.

Throughout its Kelso life, the company was the sole maintainer of 'Kelsae' as registered on the EEC lists, and had the trade mark registration of the name 'Kelsae' to ensure the rights of the breeder were protected.

Kelsae is an open pollinated hybrid plant, brought about by careful cross pollination in isolation, and was exclusive to the firm of Laing & Mather. The seed was produced under very strict supervision in the Kelso nurseries, and the genuine strain was only available from the firm.

The onion has always proved to be a winner because of its ability to grow to an exceptional size and reliably produce bulbs of 4 - 6lbs in weight when well grown. The strain has been progressively improved over the years by very stringent mother bulb selection, a process which was supervised and monitored, for many years, by the firm's local manager, Robin Hogg.

The weights, which can be produced in competition, have gone up markedly; from 4lbs 15oz in 1975, to 11lbs 2 oz in 1992, and the record, set in 1995, now stands at 15lbs 15 oz.

It has gained, on the show bench, thousands of premier awards, and has received Highly Commended Certificates in the RHS trials at Wisley.

The most critical of growers, both professional and amateur alike, are strong advocates of the Kelsae Onion as being the best variety available for exhibition work.

It has exceptional culinary qualities, and those who prefer a mild-flavoured onion, will find it most acceptable as it can be eaten either raw or cooked. When properly harvested and ripened, it will keep well into the following year.

With the rights to the onion having been sold on, the present Klondyke Garden Centre at Mayfield, Kelso has no direct link with the onion, although the greenhouses where seed selection took place are still there.

Kelso Scotland, Scottish Borders UK