Betaseed is the sugarbeet seed industry’s leading research and breeding organization devoted entirely to developing high performing, multiple disease tolerant sugarbeet seed varieties. Betaseed researchers are bringing growers genetics with more value than ever before. Each year, Betaseed evaluates more than 60,000 nursery plots and serves as a testing partner offering nursery trial services for Aphanomyces. Rhizoctonia, root aphid, and Cercospora to sugar cooperatives and official testing agencies. It takes a dedicated effort, often taking up to 10 years to develop a new variety.
Betaseed played an integral role in the development and introduction of Roundup Ready® sugarbeets for North America, and is well equipped to develop new biotech traits in the future.
Betaseed’s comprehensive research and breeding program has direct access to the world’s largest vault of sugarbeet germplasm. With over 130 employees Betaseed also has the largest and most responsive team working for sugarbeet grower success in North America. Two coordinated breeding programs – one based in Kimberly, Idaho for curly top, Rhizoctonia, and rhizomania; and the other based in Shakopee and Moorhead, Minnesota for diseases such as Aphanomyces, Fusarium, root aphid, and Cercospora – work toward mutually beneficial goals. This industry leading research has resulted in strong disease tolerance, improved yields and higher revenues for North American sugarbeet farmers.
A research program focused on curly top tolerant hybrids became necessary in the US in 1973, and Betaseed was the first to establish a research site dedicated to western irrigated markets for curly top disease tolerance. As a result, performance trials were established in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. Today, curly top disease pressure is still a research priority for the Kimberly research staff, and traditional testing methodology combined with new technology tools assists the breeding group when introducing new high performing varieties. In 1989, Betaseed established a Rhizoctonia nursery in Kimberly which is the standard for all worldwide Rhizoctonia nurseries.
The research station has 170 acres of irrigated farm land for research needs and includes greenhouse buildings, a shop, a building for seed milling, and an insectary. Over twenty team members conduct plant breeding, pest and disease tolerance evaluations, and replicated yield trials that focus on hybrid development for irrigated markets in the Western US.
In 1980, Betaseed established a dedicated research location in Shakopee to serve sugarbeet growers in non-irrigated areas. This research location includes 40 acres of irrigated land, a machine shop, seed processing equipment, research greenhouses and equipment storage buildings. The Shakopee location also manages research projects on 140 acres of irrigated land in nearby Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Established in 2010, this farm augments our current activities and provides for additional growth in the research and development activities.
The Shakopee location manages the Cercospora disease tolerance selection nursery established in 1980 and currently located on the Cannon Falls farm. In 1995, a disease tolerance selection nursery for Aphanomyces was created. Currently over 6,000 coded genotypes are screened by nine full-time Betaseed researchers for tolerance to Aphanomyces and Cercospora. Entries in these nurseries support sugar cooperatives and official testing agencies as well. Additionally, Shakopee is the designated testing site for all root aphid resistance selections for Betaseed.
In 2011, a new 60,000 square ft. greenhouse was constructed for the sole purpose of facilitating the further crossing, screening, and seed increase of lines containing experimental traits developed with the use of biotechnology. Several projects are underway, including enhanced protection from rhizomania, increased yield, and water stress tolerance.
In 1977, an additional facility was needed to conduct proprietary yield trials for Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, and Eastern Montana. 80 acres of land were purchased outside of Moorhead and an office building and research facility were erected to support trial activity. These trials are located in fields belonging to commercial sugarbeet growers, and results provide essential information to Betaseed seed breeders about each new variety when grown in commercial conditions.
The Moorhead location manages extensive disease nursery selection plots that screen sugarbeet varieties for tolerance to Fusarium.
First discovered in the United States in 1981, rhizomania remains an evolving challenge for sugarbeet growers across many markets in North America.
Betaseed breeders have been working on genetic solutions to rhizomania for over 30 years, identifying and selecting germplasm that displays tolerance to the virus that causes rhizomania, beet necrotic yellow vein virus (BNYVV).
Our goal is to:
Currently there are five known sources of tolerance genes (Rz1 to Rz5) and several are being used in our development program. By combining these sources, trials conducted on the resulting plants indicate decreased virus content and increased white sugar yield performance, particularly in areas with highly virulent strains of the BNYVV virus. The combination of tolerance genes provides a solution for beet growing areas where tolerance from a single gene has been defeated by certain BNYVV strains.
Betaseed varieties that have more than one source of tolerance are identified with the MultiSource® brand.
We are continuing to explore our vast germplasm pool for new sources of tolerance. Betaseed researchers also have projects underway that use transgenic approaches to incorporate new sources of tolerance into the available breeding material.
The sugarbeet cyst nematode (SBCN) was first observed in North America at the turn of the century. Over the course of time, the impact of this pest has expanded across several sugarbeet production areas despite the adoption of control measures such as tare dirt placement, crop rotation, trap crops, and the use of nematicides. Growers who experience symptoms report stunted and yellowing plants along with wilting during hot conditions. The reduced yield potential of infested fields can be severe, even to the point of removing those fields from sugarbeet production.
Betaseed researchers have been working on this problem for over 10 years. The available germplasm pool has been screened for sensitivity to SBCN, and sources of tolerance have been identified. By painstakingly developing these sources, Betaseed breeders have been able to incorporate the tolerant trait in select hybrids. Continued work over time has enabled the breeders to stack this tolerant source with other desirable traits for the market, providing growers with multiple hybrids from which to choose to plant a successful crop in the future. Trials have shown superior performance of varieties that contain the nematode trait even in areas with little evidence of SBCN infestation.
Betaseed will continue to focus on solutions for this pest through an on-going effort to find additional sources of tolerance and to develop nematode tolerant hybrids with a wider variety of trait combinations to our product portfolio.