USDA-MSU sugarbeet research spans 100 years

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is celebrating a century of sugarbeet research in Michigan.

USDA-ARS plant pathologist and Michigan State University professor Dr. Linda Hanson tells Brownfield she discovered decades of research documents in the basement of MSU’s greenhouses that mark the historic partnership.

“We were looking through some old records and found a letter that talked about USDA moving their research station in Michigan to collaborate with, then Michigan Agricultural College in 1923,” she shares.

The collection was found while preparing a storage area for maintenance repairs and included the remnants of past sugarbeet research spanning decades.

USDA-ARS research geneticist and MSU professor Dr. Rachel Naegele says not all research is published but the information is allowing them to compare current issues to past work to better prepare for climate emergencies.

“This also gave us an opportunity to see what some of these previous people had done, and maybe how those things are actually relevant to today, and how we might be able to take some of those initial steps that they already took and build off of those to meet these growing changing needs for the industry,” she says.

The researchers say major sugarbeet advances supported by work in Michigan include single planted seeds, unlocking the sugarbeet genome, and disease resistance breeding.

They both say ARS, MSU, and Extension collaborations have maintained their importance to growers for a century and they hope support continues in the future.

The documents have since been archived by the university and added to USDA’s National Agricultural Library.

Photo courtesy of MSU/ARS.

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