Submitted to: Seed Science Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/31/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Sugar beet is a hardy crop except during germination and establishment in the field. On average, about half of the seed planted will emerge into a seedling despite their tested germination greater than 90 percent. Reasons for this difference are not understood, but varieties are thought to show differences in their ability to germinate under stressful field conditions. Sugar beet seed germination was examined in the laboratory using a novel method of sowing in water or a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide gave a boost to germination, similar to standard germination tests, while germination in water showed a wide range of germination values that generally depended on the variety tested. Results demonstrated that differences do exist between varieties in the ability of otherwise good seed germination to germinate under water. These differences appeared to reflect growers' observations of relative emergence in the field. The development of this novel method will allow sugar beet breeders to better evaluate potential performance of varieties under field conditions in a simple, inexpensive and rapid test.
Technical Abstract: Field emergence of sugar beet seed is a major concern of sugar beet growers in the Great Lakes region of the United States and elsewhere in the world. Seed quality, measured as the percent germination in standardized ideal conditions, is uniformly high in commercial seedlots, and the discrepancy between germination tests and field emergence needs to be narrowed. Our interest is specifically developing germplasm with better field emergence, but selection for high emergence under changing field environment, or field environment-like, conditions has been problematic. Here, we report results from germination in liquid media that (i) simulate optimal conditions for germination and (ii) differentiate between varieties and seedlots to a greater extent than now available. Using a range of germplasm, some known to be compromised in their germinability, incubation in dilute hydrogen peroxide solutions stimulated germination, but not generally beyond values obtained with standardized germination tests, while incubation in water alone showed a range of germination values from less than 25 percent to greater than 90 percent among seedlots with otherwise good germinability. Varieties appeared to differ in their germination in water, although differences between seedlots of the same variety were noted. Overall, germination in water may provide a useful tool to differentiate among seedlots and perhaps as a selection pressure for enhanced field emergence.