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05. Seed Production

We now produce the basic seed, or seed for the inbred line, and ultimately make the hybrid varieties that become the eventual commercial variety. The seed propagation begins during the field trial research to reduce the time between initial research and availability to growers.

Step 1: Stecklings

To start, basic seed is planted in sandy soils in the fall. We work with experienced farmers in both the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and Yuma, Arizona to plant our basic seed nurseries where our parental inbred plants are nurtured to the proper health and size. After a few months of growth, this small root is known as a steckling.

Step 2: Vernalization

Sugarbeets are a biennial crop, meaning it needs 2 seasons to complete its life cycle and produce seed. To trigger flowering, the plant needs a cold treatment known as vernalization. The mild winters in Oregon provide sufficient vernalization temperatures naturally. Yet stecklings from Arizona need to be carefully harvested and moved to a cold storage facility for vernalization treatment.

Step 3: Selection

Once vernalized, the stecklings are transplanted by hand in seed production fields where the chosen males are combined with the desired female combinations.

Step 4: Pollination

Years of experience result in transplanting the correct ratio of male to female stecklings, which allows the production team adequate flexibility to clip the flowering plants in a way to best match the flowering times of each inbred for that critical 3 week pollination period.

Step 5: Harvest

A solid agronomic program for fertility, irrigation, and pest management leads to a successful commercial seed harvest during August.