The importance of folic acid in the human diet has been recognized in recent years by major increases in government recommended allowances. Red beet (Beta vulgaris L.) is an important vegetable source of folic acid, however little is known about the extent of variation for native folic acid content in red beet germplasm. A total of 18 red beet entries, including 11 hybrids (F1) and seven open-pollinated cultivars (OP), were evaluated for free folic acid content (FFAC) in replicated field experiments during 1993 and 1994. Significant differences among entries were detected in all studies. FFAC ranged from 3.3 to 15.2 μg·g-1 on a dry mass basis. A significant entry × year interaction was detected. Changes in rank of entries between years were minimal among F1 hybrids, while the changes in rank among OP cultivars were large. These data demonstrate significant variability among cultivated red beet germplasm sources for FFAC. Entries with high FFAC may be useful for increasing levels of this vitamin in red beet.
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