Submitted to: Annual Beet Sugar Development Foundation Research Report
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: September 5, 2002
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 sugar beet growing areas. Some of these stresses include seedling damping-off and adult root rot diseases caused by the fungi Aphanomyces cochlioides and Rhizoctonia solani, a leaf spot disease caused by Cercospora beticola, and a suite of weather-related stresses that create problems obtaining adequate stands of sugar beets. The breeding program at East Lansing is geared towards releasing improved germplasm with tolerance or resistance to these stresses. In addition, breeding for improved quality and yield of sugar is continuing along with breeding for the smooth root characteristic. Smooth roots lessen the amount of adhered soil on harvested beets compared with traditional beets with the deep cleft root, avoiding problems of transport, processing and disposal of unwanted and potentially infested soils. The East Lansing breeding program will continue to release improved germplasm to the United States sugar beet industry, as well as provide new knowledge regarding the measurement and selection of better varieties for the growing region. Additional program benefits will come in the future in the form of improved understanding of the number, action, identity, and location of genes controlling agronomic and economic traits and their application in integrated breeding approaches.