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534 - Official Variety Trials Getting It Done Right

Variety selection is one of six Agronomy Gold Standards practices American Crystal Sugar Company promotes to its growers. Yield, quality and disease characteristics of varieties must be carefully documented so growers can make fully informed choices. Successfully conducting official variety trials involves extensive planning, careful plot care and significant expenditures. 

Variety Trial Objectives

  • Select varieties suitable for the RRV
  • Provide unbiased data to growers
  • Maintain uniformity within a site
  • Careful site selection - utilizing satellite imagery and other factors
  • Rows planted perpendicular to farming operations
  • No wheel tracks through trials after planting
  • Careful statistical design and analysis

Types of Variety Trials Conducted Each Year

  • 11 sites to determine yield potential across RRV and Rhizomania severity
  • 2 Aphanomyces yield trials
  • Disease nurseries
  • 3 Cercospora locations
  • 3 Rhizoctonia locations
  • 2 Fusarium locations
  • 2 Aphanomyces locations
  • 4 Minn-Dak yield trials

Disease Trial Protocols to Ensure Reliability/Accuracy

  • Use third party unbiased raters e.g. university or USDA scientists
  • Check varieties are used to achieve consistent ratings
  • Up to 10 check varieties for a disease nursery

Disease Nursery Adjustments - Why Done?

  • Account for infection variation from year to year
  • Provides a consistent target for approval for seed companies
  • Easier to interpret data

Why Are Pesticides Used on the Seed?

  • To ensure that diseases and insects do not impact stand or growth when the objective is to determine yield potential

Which Pesticides Are Used On The Seed and Trials?

  • Quadris to eliminate Rhizoctonia impact in yield trials
  • Tachigaren to control seedling Aphanomyces
  • Apron-Thiram for seedling pythium and Rhizoctonia control
  • Fungicides to control Cercospora as needed
  • Herbicides for weed control
  • Poncho Beta for insect control in 2010

Why Some Locations Are Abandoned Each Year

Abandonment is done because some factor seriously reduces uniformity at a given location to such an extent it would result in data of questionable value.

Past Reasons for Abandonment Include:

  • Flooding
  • Spray drift
  • Wind damage
  • Crusting
  • Frost
  • Uneven disease pressure

Do Seed Companies Have Opportunity for Input?

Yes they do in several different ways:

  • At an annual meeting with the American Crystal Sugar Company Seed Committee
  • At tours or visits to trial sites
  • Bill Niehaus, American Crystal Sugar Company Official Trial Manager maintains close contact with seed companies throughout the growing season

Unbiased coded trials scientists at the U of MN, NWROC assign a code to all seed entered in each trial so no one knows individual variety identity until harvest is completed and data analyzed.

Dr. John Kern Retires after 40 Years with American Crystal Sugar Company

From a farm in eastern Kansas to earning his PhD from the Iowa State University and throughout his four decade career with our Company, John's accomplishments have been numerous and noteworthy.

Some of his major Crystal Beetseed research activities include:
  • Development of improved sugarbeet varieties
  • Development of a variety testing and approval system to assure grower access to the most profitable sugarbeet varieties
  • Instrumental in developing our Idaho Breeding Station
  • Instrumental in developing many seed related programs
American Crystal Wishes You All the Best in Your Retirement!