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2021 Planning: Resources for Vegetable Variety Selection

 Author: Marissa Schuh, UMN Extension Educator, Horticulture Integrated Pest Management

We all know the varieties we select are one of the most important factors in how the farm season ahead will go.  When flipping through seed catalogs, we are bombarded with acronyms for resistances and lots of big claims.  Below are some resources to help you wade through the options.

A stack of magazines. Photo: govicinity via

Sources for Evaluating Potential Varieties 

There is more than promises of resistance and tolerance.  Universities around the country evaluate varieties to see how they perform in local conditions.  Below are examples of resources that can be used to figure out what varieties you might want to try out this year.  All of the below is well paired with searching by using the ctrl+F key combination.

What kind of disease resistance is out there?

Cornell tabulates all the disease claims in assorted seed catalogues into webpage.  Claims haven’t been verified, but can be a way to see a big picture.  Note that Cornell doesn’t independently verify the catalogue’s claims, instead just compiling them across companies.

How might these varieties perform?

Depending on where in the state you’re at and your growing techniques, different resources will be helpful.  University and extension resources around the region trail varieties for characteristics like yield, quality, and sometimes even taste. 

Minnesota trials are performed by extension educators and master gardeners. In the last few years,  Annie Klodd has trialed pumpkins (2020, 2018), and Natalie Hoidal has work underway testing chilli peppers and broccoli. Steve Poppe and Nate Dalman have done work on disease-resistant bell peppers in Western Minnesota.  Minnesota Master Gardeners from around the state also evaluate and rank cultivars in their own gardens, the compiled results go back almost 40 years.

Many universities in our region submit their trials to Midwest Variety Trial Report.  These trials go back many years, and cover both field and hoophouse production.

Other relevant trials can be found in the Northeast.  New Hampshire extension has done trials on high tunnel eggplant, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and others.  If you are interested in trying to overwinter crops, New Hampshire has done these trials with different varieties of onions and scallions. University of Maine Extension also runs trials, which include some nice pictures.

Final Thoughts

Maybe you found some exciting possibilities from the information above.  Don’t jump in too fast, and limit the percentage of your farm devoted to experimental varieties.

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