For multiplying sugar beet seeds, SESVanderHave combines many years of experience with innovative agricultural techniques. Motivated seed multipliers, with whom SESVanderHave has established long-term partnerships, ensure SESVanderHave can be confident of controlled and professional multiplication of seeds. This process is carried out in carefully selected growing areas to ensure purity and quality.
Ideal multiplication conditions
“The heart of SESVanderHave’s seed production is in Southwestern France and in Northern Italy. Conditions there are ideal for the production of high-quality sugar beet seeds. In the Ukraine and in the United States, seed is produced for the local markets”, says Dirk Vermoote, Product Manager of SESVanderHave. “We have also licensed production in Turkey, Greece and Japan, that are supported by our local experts.”
But how exactly is sugar beet seed multiplied?
A commercial sugar beet is a hybrid, a plant that needs two genetic lines to be able to reproduce. To obtain these hybrids, two types of basic seed are selected: a male parent (or pollinator) and a female parent (or seed carrier), which must be fertilised. The selection of these parents is done in two separate programmes.
This basic seed is sown in cultivation beds in August. In February, that basic seed is lifted to be replanted as stecklings by farmers and multipliers. The vernalisation in winters’ cold temperatures is necessary for the plants to bolt and set flowers. In order to obtain high-quality stecklings, the choice of field and agronomic practices are of the utmost importance.
The stecklings are sown in various regions, again paying much attention to the field location. SESVanderHave field technicians meticulously control the soil, the crop rotation and potential sources of contamination, such as wild beet.
Sowing is done manually, usually according to the 6-2-2 system, with six rows of female plants surrounded by two rows of pollinators. Soon after the sowing, the stecklings start to bolt. In the spring, the flowering stalk is trimmed to optimise fertilisation timing between male and female parents. The pollen from the male plant are transmitted onto the female plant by the wind.
As soon as the seeds have ripened, swathing of the female seed carriers can begin. These cut swaths remain on the fields for another four to ten days to dry, before they are harvested. SESVanderHave field technicians closely monitor the drying process - both on the field and after harvesting. Moisture content should not exceed 12 percent to ensure good storability of the seed and strong germination.
A first pre-cleaning is then carried out in the local SESVanderHave facilities (e.g. at Calignac). The seeds are then ready to be transported to the processing factories.
Dirk Vermoote: “Every lot is marked with a bar code so that both variety and plot are fully traceable. Many years of experience, combined with the permanent support and rigorous quality control of SESVanderHave, ensure seed multiplication remains of the highest quality.”