Submitted to: Annual Beet Sugar Development Foundation Research Report
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Germination is fundamental in obtaining a harvestable crop. Without adequate germination, emergence, and stand establishment, growers face diminished returns relative to a crop's potential. Good stands of sugar beet may be more difficult to achieve than most other crops, at least in the beet growing regions of Michigan. Moisture, temperature, and impedance (the ability of the seed to germinate through the surrounding corky tissue and penetrate encrusted soils) are considered important in stand establishment. Large differences between germination under ideal and field conditions undoubtedly are due to stress conditions experienced by the germinating seed. An approach we are taking allows differentiation of field emergence by germinating seeds in aqueous solutions. These assays are done rapidly, with minimal training of personnel, and are reproducible. Exploitation of this system for more detailed understanding of genetically controlled physiological responses is helping to understand the complex nature of germination in relation to the environment. Actual field counts have proven that differences between varieties exist for abiotic-related emergence problems. Gene expression in aqueous assays show large differences in the numbers and types of genes expressed under different treatments. These genes are not expressed in the traditional germination tests. Sources of early seedling stress resistance are being sought among obsolete varieties and wild species, and their genetic control will be evaluated for breeding enhanced germplasm for release to industry.