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Vegetable Variety Selection

Vegetable Variety Selection

County Agent News
Dan Folske
February 6, 2017 

Vegetable Variety Selection

     I think I got my first garden seed catalog in October this year. Like Christmas shopping at the Veggiesretail stores, the garden catalogs just keep getting earlier each year as the seed companies vie for your business. How do you select which seed varieties you are going to plant? If you look at the descriptions in the seed catalogs every variety is a true winner and you are going to have the best garden in the neighborhood as long as you but from the company whose catalog you are looking at any particular moment.

     In reality most gardeners have at least some long time favorites they are going to plant regardless of what the seed catalogs promise about new varieties. However most gardeners like to try new varieties too. It is trying to select which new varieties to try that becomes somewhat of a gambling and can be frustrating.

     A little online research can be helpful. Some seed companies publish variety trial information comparing at least some of the varieties of seed they are selling. Those trial can be helpful but pay attention to where they were conducted and whether they were dryland or irrigated. An irrigated trial conducted in Georgia probably is not a good comparison for pepper or onion varieties you are going to raise without irrigation in North Dakota. Many Universities also conduct variety trails. The publications or websites with these trials are usually more forthcoming with additional information about locations, weather conditions, how the trials were managed, and other pertinent information.  Look for trials which were conducted under climactic conditions as close to yours as possible. Latitude, elevation, rainfall, and USDA climate zones are important. Knowing how the vegetable crop you are considering responds to day length and other similar factors are important. Onions are a crop which is very sensitive about day length and you will usually find them rated as short day, long day, or sometimes day neutral. Don’t confuse short day with short growing season. Our days are much longer during our growing season than Texas or Oklahoma. Pick short day or day neutral onions for our area.

     One onion trial you may want to look at for storage type onions was done at the Carrington Research Center. Go to https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/varietytrials/carrington-rec/2016-trial-results/2016-trial-results-onion-dryland-organic-carrington/view or just google 2016 CREC trials. In this dryland organic storage onion trials you will see that Sedona, Pontiac, and Dakota Tears significantly out produced the variety Copra which is often featured in seed catalogs.

     Another very good reference is the North Dakota Home Garden Variety Trials. NDSU Extension Horticulturist Tom Kalb works with home gardeners across the state who want to try different varieties in their own gardens each year. In 2016 233 families participated by growing and evaluating 99 varieties of vegetables and flowers in their home gardens. Go to https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/homegardenvarietytrials or just google it for a great list of recommended vegetable varieties from North Dakota Home Gardeners like you!

 

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