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Min Wang and I.L. Goldman

Governmental recommended allowances for folic acid have increased dramatically in recent years, especially for pregnant women. Red beet 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 genotypes. The objective of this investigation was to evaluate variation in folic acid content (FAC) among red beet hybrids (F1), inbred lines (IL), plant introductions (PI), and open-pollinated cultivars (OP). Eighteen genotypes, including 12 F1 and six OP, were evaluated in field experiments during both years. Averaged over years, highly significant differences among genotypes and between F1 and OP were detected. FAC ranged from 3.7 mg to 15.2 mg per gram dry weight. The FAC in OP was 13% higher than in F1. Thirty genotypes, including 13 IL and 17 PI, were evaluated in greenhouse experiments during 1993 and 1994. Highly significant differences among genotypes and between IL and PI were detected. FAC varied from 1.54 mg to 11.13 mg per gram dry weight. The FAC in IL was 43% higher than in PI. These results demonstrate an approximate 10-fold variation among red beet genotypes for FAC.

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Young Sang Lee, G Mitiku, and A.G. Endress

The hypothesis that Al3+ interferes with membrane biophysical properties has been tested. Plasma membrane expansion/contraction in protoplasts isolated from red beet was induced by decreasing or increasing the osmolarity of extracellular solutions. The percentage of Iysed protoplasts was measured to characterize the effects of Al3+ on the ability of protoplasts to increase their plasma membrane surface area. In control solutions (800 mM sorbitol), 31.4% of protoplasts Iysed following osmotic dilution from 1200 mM. Al3+ treatment (5 mM) decreased the proportion of Iysed protoplasts by 7.7% and Ca2+ (5 mM) by 17% compared to control. Lanthanum (La3+), however, proved to be the most efficient ion for protection against Iysis (3.3%). Under hypertonic solutions, Al3+ treatment helped protoplasts maintain their roundness, diameter, and cross-sectional area compared to the control (1.5 M sorbitol), thus, altering the protoplasts “roundness” as determined by image analysis parameters. The results suggest that a decrease in the proportion of Iysed protoplasts in the presence of Al3+ may be induced due to changes in membrane permeability to water.

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I.L. Goldman

The effects of population density on shape and size of cylindrical red beet genotypes were evaluated in a field experiment during 1994 and 1995. Two F1 hybrids and two open-pollinated genotypes were planted in replicated trials consisting of three population densities. Yield, harvest weight, percent harvestable beets per plot, length, middle width, top width, bottom width, length × width, length to width ratio, and a shape index (SI) were measured on a sample of beet plants from each plot. The density × genotype interaction was nonsignificant for all 10 traits. Averaged over genotypes, significant differences among densities were found for harvest weight, percent harvestable beets per plot, length, middle width, and length × width. In general, greater harvest weights, a higher percentage of harvestable beets, and greater length, middle width, and length × width values were found at low density. Averaged over densities, significant differences among genotypes were measured for all 10 traits. The open-pollinated genotypes Cyndor and Cylindra exhibited lower yield, lower harvest weight, greater SI, and a higher percentage of harvestable beets than their hybrid counterparts. These data demonstrate that population density has a differential and significant effect on the shape and size of cylindrical beet genotypes.

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Denis A. Shah and Lydia Stivers-Young

Data collected on 181 fields from 1998 to 2000 were analyzed for associations among cultural practices in table beet (Beta vulgaris) and levels of decay in the harvested beet roots. Increased risk of decay was associated with short rotations between beet crops, certain crop rotations in the four years before beets, the frequency of row cultivation, and narrow row spacing. Shielding during cultivation was associated with increased risk of decay, but the effect may be an indirect one. Decay levels were not associated with beet variety, the use of manure or preplant fertilizer. Decay did increase with higher rates of nitrogen side dressing. Mean decay differed significantly among growers, and could be explained in part by the set of cultural practices used by a grower. The results suggest that the risk of decay is determined by interacting biological and cultural factors. Manipulation of cultural practices and cropping sequence may be useful in managing levels of beet decay.

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Glen Murray, Jerry B. Swensen, and John J. Gallian

Seedling emergence from primed and nonprimed sugar beet seed (Beta vulgaris L.) was studied for 3 years under field conditions near Kimberly, Idaho, and compared with germination or emergence under controlled laboratory conditions. Maximum seedling emergence did not vary with seed treatment in spite of low field soil temperatures. Time to 50% of maximum emergence was significantly less for seed primed with polyethylene glycol 8000 than for nonprimed seed in only 1 of 3 years. Seed soaked in 30C water for 24 h performed similarly to nontreated seed in the field, but their maximum emergence was significantly improved compared with primed seed in one of two laboratory experiments. Time to 50% of maximum germination was improved by priming with or without a warm water soak in one of the two laboratory experiments.

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Carmen Feller and Matthias Fink

To reduce nitrogen (N) losses from vegetable fields, fertilizer recommendations should be adjusted according to the large range in yield and thus in N uptake of vegetable crops. Therefore, a model was used to predict total N uptake based on expected yield. The model has been validated successfully in a series of studies for Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea L. var. gemmifera), white cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata) and kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea L. var. gongylodes). The objective of this study was to validate the model for table beet (Beta vulgaris L. var. conditiva), a crop with a considerable variability in N uptake, which is caused by a large potential range of selecting sowing dates, plant densities and cultivars. Field experiments were carried out over two years. Fifty-five combinations of N fertilizer levels, plant densities, cultivars and sowing dates were tested. Plants were sampled at 2- or 3-week intervals, and fresh matter, dry matter and N content of leaves and roots were measured. Crop specific model parameters for table beets were determined from independent data. The model wverestimated N uptake for N-limiting conditions, but for optimally fertilized table beets measured and estimated N uptake showed a close correlation (R 2 = 0.93) when total yield was used as an input parameter for the model. Although the error of estimation (35 kg·ha-1) was considerable, studies with other vegetable crops using the model found the error even higher if other tools, such as look-up tables, were used for predicting N uptake.

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Carmen Feller and Matthias Fink

The objective was to provide results to optimize the production of table beet (Beta vulgaris L.) with respect to yield and quality. Field experiments were carried out over 2 years, where the effects of nitrogen (N) supply, sowing date, and cultivar were tested in a block design with four replications. In addition to yield, soluble solids and nitrate N contents of roots were measured to assess quality. Sowing date was an important factor for determining yield and quality of table beet. Sowing dates later than June at the experimental site are not recommended because they resulted in an increase in nitrate N content in fresh weight of up to 3027 mg·kg-1 and an average yield loss of 46% compared to sowings in April. Soluble solids content (SSC) was only slightly affected by planting date. Nitrogen supply did not affect SSC, but increasing N supply led to a major increase in nitrate N content, especially if combined with late sowing dates. It was concluded for early sowing dates that N supply be determined to achieve the maximum yield. With an early sowing date, nitrate N content in fresh weight at harvest was <563 mg·kg-1, even with a high N supply of 250 kg·ha-1. Late sowing dates required a reduced N supply to keep harvest nitrate contents below the 2500 mg·kg-1 required by the processing industry. Recommendations for optimizing N supply, sowing date, and cultivars for table beet should always take into account strong interactions between these factors.

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D.J. Wolyn and W.H. Gabelman

Three cycles of half-sib family selection were practiced in a previously unselected table beet (Beta vulgaris L.) population to produce high pigment-high solids (HPHS) and high pigment-low solids (HPLS) populations. A selection index (total pigment concentration/percent dissolved solids) was used to improve the HPLS population and another selection index (total pigment concentration × percent dissolved solids) was used to improve the HPHS population. Rates of gain for total pigment were 22.2% per cycle in the HPHS population and 18.4% per cycle in the HPLS population. The HPHS and HPLS populations showed directional but nonsignificant changes for dissolved solids: 3.0% and - 2.6% per cycle, respectively. The rate of gain per cycle for selection index value (29.1%) was greater in the HPHS population than in the HPLS population (21.2%). Realized heritabilities were high for total pigment (0.81 and 0.82) and selection index (0.74 and 0.74) and low for dissolved solids (0.25 and 0.27) in both populations. Variation among families was greater for total pigment than for dissolved solids.

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Timothy W. Miller

Diquat was tested to determine its suitability for use as a preharvest desiccant of selected vegetable seed crops during 1997 and 1998. In separate studies, diquat was applied at 0,0.56, or 1.12 kg·ha-1 ai. to spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), table beet (Beta vulgaris L.), and coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) plants at usual swathing time. Except for beet seed in 1998, there was no clear trend toward reduced seed weight with increasing diquat rate. Spinach seed germination in 1998 and coriander seed germination in 1997 were reduced by diquat at 1.12 kg·ha-1 compared to seed from nontreated plants or plants treated with 0.56 kg·ha-1. In all crops, diquat at 0.56 kg·ha-1 was adequate for crop desiccation purposes. However, seed producers should consider the potential benefits from chemical desiccation that may potentially lower germination of the harvested seed. Chemical name used: 6,7-dihydrodipyrido[1,2-α:2′,1′-c]pyrazinediium ion (diquat).

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Veronica L. Gaertner and Irwin L. Goldman

Half-sib recurrent selection programs were initiated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978 and 1995 to increase betalain (betacyanin and betaxanthin) concentration in red and yellow table beets (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris), respectively. Cycles of selection from both the red and yellow table beet breeding programs were evaluated for pigment and total dissolved solids (TDS) distribution in five tissue sections (outer, middle and center zones of the root; leaf and petiole) in two environments (early and late planting) during 2002. Betaxanthin concentration increased with the later planting date in the majority of the tissue zones in the yellow and red table beet populations. Absolute pigment concentration of the outer root zone increased the most over cycles of selection: 46.6 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW) betaxanthin and 201 mg/100 g FW betacyanin for yellow and red populations, respectively. However, the greatest rate of gain was in the center and middle tissue zones. Selection based on the outer 2 cm of root tissue has effectively increased pigmentation of the entire beet plant. A correlated response to selection in leaf and petiole tissue was measured for pigment concentration in both populations. The contribution of each tissue zone to total pigment concentration of the beet plant remained constant throughout cycles of selection averaging 39%, 25%, 25%, 6%, and 5% for outer, middle, center, petiole and leaf tissue zones, respectively. Across all table beet populations, pigment concentration of the outer root zone was 55% and 62% higher than middle and center zones, respectively. TDS of the outer root zone was 10% and 12% higher than middle and center zones, respectively.