Submitted to: Annual Beet Sugar Development Foundation Research Report
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Germination is fundamental in obtaining a harvestable crop. Without adequate germination, emergence and stand establishment, diminished returns relative to the crop's potential result. Good stands of sugar beet are enhanced by adequate moisture and favorable temperature, as well as the ability of the seed to penetrate encrusted soils. All commercial sugar beet tseedlots are tested under ideal conditions where germination of 90% or mor but actual field emergence averages 50% in Michigan. The difference between germination under ideal and field conditions undoubtedly is due to stress conditions experienced by the germinating seed. Various tests have been devised in the past to examine sugar beet seed germination in stressful conditions, but have not been entirely satisfactory. An approach we are using may allow differentiation of the components of field emergence, including the varietal component, is to germinate seeds in aqueous solutions supplemented with various water-soluble chemicals that may eithe promote or inhibit germination. These assays can be done rapidly, with minimal training, and are reproducible. We have shown that germination in de-oxygenated water at controlled temperatures reflect the relative emergence potential of varieties and seedlots in the field. Addition of dilute hydrogen peroxide restores germination in water to values similar to traditional germination tests. The ratio of germination in water to germination in hydrogen peroxide may be a useful measure to characterize individual seedlots for potential field emergence. Further, exploitation of this system for more detailed genetically-controlled physiological responses will help to understand the complex nature of germination in relation to the environment.