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Publication #HS712

Variety Selection1

J. H. Freeman and S.M. Olson2

Selection of the variety to plant is one of the most important decisions the commercial vegetable grower must make each season. Each year seed companies and experiment stations release dozens of new varieties to compete with those already available. Growers should evaluate some new varieties each year on a trial basis to observe performance on their own farms. Plant only those that show real promise based on University of Florida, industry, or grower trials. A limited number of new varieties should be evaluated so that observations on plant performance, characteristics, and yields can be noted and recorded. It is relatively easy to establish a trial but very time consuming to make all the observations necessary to make a decision on adoption of the new variety for large scale production. Some factors to consider before adopting a variety are:

Yield: The variety should have the potential to produce crops at least equivalent to those already grown. Harvested yield may be must less than potential yield because of market constraints.

Disease Resistance: The most economical and effective means of pest management is through the use of varieties with genetic resistance or tolerance to disease. When all other factors are about equal, it would be prudent to select a variety with needed disease resistance or tolerance. Disease resistance is more critical than ever as a part of the pest management system as producers must now operate without methyl bromide fumigation which played a critical role in soil-borne pest management for some systems.

Relative Maturity: Though several varieties may have similar performance with respect to total or marketable yield some varieties may be significantly earlier than others. This factor must be taken into account when planning a planting scheme for the season and may be beneficial to reach certain market windows.

Horticultural Quality: Characteristics of the plant habit as related to climate and production practices and of the marketed plant product must be acceptable.

Adaptability: Successful varieties must perform well under the range of environmental conditions usually encountered on the individual farm.

Market Acceptability: The harvested plant product must have characteristics desired by the packer, shipper, wholesaler, retailer, and consumer. Included among those qualities are packout, size, shape, color, flavor, and nutritional quality.

During the past few years there has been a decide shift to hybrids in many vegetable crops in an effort by growers to achieve earliness, higher yields, better quality, and greater uniformity. Seed costs are higher for hybrids than for open-pollinated varieties because seed must be produced by controlled crossing of the parents of the hybrid. Most crop listings include hybrids designated (H), as well as open-pollinated varieties.

Variety selection is a very dynamic process. Some varieties retain favor for many years, whereas others might be used only a few seasons if some special situation, such as plant disease or marketing change, develops. Variety selection in Florida often requires special regional consideration due to the wide range of climatic variations and perennial pest issues of the peninsula.



This document is HS712, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Date first printed: June, 1995. Reviewed February 2011. Revised May 2014. Please visit the EDIS website at


J.H. Freeman, assistant professor and S.M. Olson, professor, NFREC-Quincy, UF/IFAS Extension. The Vegetable Production Handbook for Florida is edited by S.M. Olson, professor, NFREC-Quincy, and E.H. Simonne, associate professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. It is not a guarantee or warranty of the products named, and does not signify that they are approved to the exclusion of others of suitable composition. Use pesticides safely. Read and follow directions on the manufacturer's label.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.