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R446 Seed Rate Recommendations For New Varieties

Publication Date: 
16 September 2014
Author/Contact :
David Firman

Contractor :

Full Research Project Title: Development of seed rate recommendations for new varieties
Duration: April 2011 - March 2014

Aim: To develop the provision of seed rate recommendations appropriate for newly introduced varieties by implementing systems based on quantifying key varietal characters.



a) Determine suitability of simplified systems for establishing seed rate recommendations.
b) Develop use of systems with collaborators to enable continual optimization and future use by collaborators supported by their own collection and analysis of data.
c) Collate and describe datasets of varietal characters with potential to inform breeding programmes and suitability of varieties for different markets.

Seed rate recommendations for many varieties grown in Britain, including widely grown varieties, have generally been adapted from recommendations derived to optimise gross yield in other varieties. There continues to be much interest in introduction of new varieties but their adoption is generally slow and varieties with useful attributes may fail to be adopted if suitable agronomic advice is not rapidly developed. Potential benefits include more efficient introduction of new varieties with lower seed costs and less crop wastage.




Thirteen common varieties were included in all years and one variety (Vales Sovereign) included in 2011 only was dropped from the project so that datasets were assembled for a total of 17 varieties. Complementary data on numbers of stems, numbers of tubers and graded yield from collaborators’ experiments and from commercial crops were collected and collated alongside the data from the field experiments. The combined datasets were analysed to calculate key relationships and parameters which affect seed rate requirements. These included the relationships between the number of tubers and stems, relationships between the number of stems per seed tuber and seed tuber weight, effect of seed age on the number of stems per seed tuber and tuber shape. These parameters were used to derive provisional seed rate recommendations for the varieties included in the study using a system adapted from previous work.

Key Findings

Simple experiments conducted over three seasons can provide sufficiently consistent data to enable calculation of preliminary seed rates for new varieties for standard-aged seed stocks.  Determining the effect of seed age on seed rates is not easily achieved using readily available seed stocks and documentation and requires dedicated identification or production of seed of contrasting age combined with a specific experimental approach.  Relatively little data suitable for calculating key parameters for deriving seed rates are routinely collected by organisations with interests in introducing new varieties.  Whilst the simple system for deriving new seed rates should be more effective than existing approaches of basing recommendations on existing varieties, this new approach cannot be adopted without resources being dedicated to provide the required information.  The most reliable seed recommendations from this project can be expected to be for the varieties Casablanca, Innovator, Jelly, Markies, Perline, Saphire and Sylvana for which fairly comprehensive datasets were collated whilst recommendations for the other varieties studied would benefit most from further development work.


Organisations interested in the effective introduction of new varieties should ensure systems are in place to capture accurate data on seed and ware crops which can be used to derive and adapt seed rate recommendations for these varieties.  Data on the emergence date of seed crops should be routinely collected and documented so that the effect of seed age can be quantified and, where appropriate, accounted for in recommendations. Given the importance of appropriate seed rates in achieving the target size distribution in crops with contrasting end markets (e.g. salads and bakers), conducting specific experiments to obtain data to calculate key variety-specific parameters affecting seed rates would be worthwhile and should form part of the process of new variety introductions.


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