Commissioner of Agriculture Susan Combs has announced the introduction of a new spring onion, the Texas Legend.

It is a new version of an old favorite--the Texas 1015 SuperSweet onion--and will be available in grocery stores in late March.

The Texas Legend, which is its official name, was developed by Dr. Leonard M. Pike, director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center and professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, at Texas A&M University. The Legend's trademark name will be Texas 1015 Elite.

The Texas Legend is almost identical to the original 1015 onion, except it matures nearly two weeks earlier. Growers will harvest the Legend in late March. The original 1015 onion is harvested in mid-April through May 1. This expands the 1015 onion season in Texas and creates economic opportunities for producers. About 1,000 acres of the onions were planted in Texas, in October.

"Those two weeks will give onion growers and shippers a jump-start on the competition. They will get better prices, because the Legend allows them to get 1015 onions into the market earlier in the season," said Combs.

According to Pike, the Texas Legend could have a $30 million impact on the agricultural industry each year, depending on future acreage. The Legend's thick, mild, moist rings make it ideal for eating raw, which is the best way to capture its nutritional benefits.

"Onions have tremendous cancer-fighting properties and have many health benefits when eaten raw," Pike said. "The Legend is another agricultural improvement for Texas. Our main objective is to keep the Texas onion industry thriving, so it maintains competitive in the market."

"Texas agriculture is continuing to move forward and seize economic opportunities for the farmers and ranchers in Texas," Combs said. "Texas is a huge onion producer and the flavor of our 1015s make them kind of an onion legend."

Onions are the No. 1 cash vegetable crop in Texas, and , in the past, 1015 onions accounted for more than a third of the total onion acreage and production. Texas is the sixth largest producer of all onions, producing more than $93 million in 1999.

Onions are considered a universal food, with a good mix of nutrients, including vitamin C, several B vitamins and folic acid. One medium-sized onion only has 60 calories.

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