Submitted to: Annual Beet Sugar Development Foundation Research Report
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Sugar beet growers in Michigan and the Great Lakes region face a unique set of disease and abiotic stresses that in combination are not experienced on a regular basis in other growing areas. Some of these stresses include a seedling disease caused by the fungus Aphanomyces cochlioides, a root rot disease caused by Rhizoctonia solani, a leaf spot disease caused by Cercospora beticola, and a suite of weather-related stresses that in some years include problems obtaining adequate stands of sugar beets in some years. The breeding program at East Lansing is geared towards releasing improved germplasm with tolerance or resistance to these stresses. Breeding for improved quality and yield of sugar is continuing along with breeding for smooth root characteristics. Smoother roots lessen the amount of adhered soil on harvested beets and avoids the associated problems of transport, processing and disposal of unwanted and potentially infested soils. Supporting these breeding objectives are three scientists and three full-time technicians, along with part-time help from graduate, undergraduate and high school students. The program works closely with the faculty and staff of Michigan State University and is effectively integrated with Michigan State University's facilities. The program is also effectively integrated with the sugar beet industry in Michigan including processor and grower groups. The contributions of these organizations continues to be crucial to the breeding mission at East Lansing. The impact of the East Lansing breeding program is based on releases of improved germplasm to the United States sugar beet industry as well as based on knowledge directly useful to the industry related to measurement and selection of better varieties for the growing region.