BC Seed Trials: Specialty Beet Variety Trial 2016 (Brief)

Research Brief Publication Date: July 09, 2018
Last Updated: April 26, 2024

Dr. Alexandra Lyon, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, University of British Columbia
Melanie Sylvestre, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, University of British Columbia
Chris Thoreau, FarmFolk CityFolk
Shauna MacKinnon, FarmFolk CityFolk
Dr. Renee Prasad, University of Fraser Valley

Project Funders and Partners:

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada & B.C. Ministry of Agriculture through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.

The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security

Farm Folk City Folk

Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm

University of the Fraser Valley


This brief is based on one year of variety trials data collection.


The goal of the BC Seed Trials is to engage farmers in producing knowledge relevant to seed systems development in British Columbia. These variety trials aim to identify superior crop varieties for fresh market farming and seed production. 

Golden and Chioggia beets are prized for their unique appearance, giving them value as seed crops. Golden beets are known to have poor germination, an important production challenge.

Priority traits for this trial included:

  • Good germination
  • Smooth, uniform, and globe-shaped with few root hairs
  • Attractive tops that are a good size for bunching
  • Disease resistance

Research Process

We used a Mother-Baby trial design, which pairs larger, researcher-managed trials with a group of farmer-managed trials on participating farms. The UBC Farm and Wisbey Veggies in Abbotsford served as organic and conventional “mother” sites. The UBC Farm site used a randomized block trial design, planting each variety three times in different locations. Beet trials were planted at five on-farm sites, including two farms that were certified organic and three that were not. 

The variety trials described in this brief were conducted in 2016. These results represent only one year of data collection, and therefore should be seen as a snapshot of the varieties in that year, which might vary in other weather conditions.

Varieties Included in 2016 Beet Trials

Variety Source Type Seed OP Variety Group
Golden Full Circle Seeds  Golden organic OP BC-grown
Chioggia Sunshine Seeds Chioggia organic OP BC-grown
Chioggia Eagleridge Chioggia organic OP BC-grown
Chioggia Guardsmark Johnny's Selected Seeds Chioggia organic OP Chioggia Check
Yellow Sunrise Osborne Golden untreated OP Commercial
Golden Osborne Golden untreated OP Commercial
Boldor Johnny's Selected Seeds Golden untreated OP Commercial
Touchstone Gold Wild Garden Seeds Golden organic OP Farmer-selected/PNW
Golden Grex Fedco Golden organic OP Farmer-selected/PNW
3-beet-grex Planting Seeds Project Golden organic OP BC-grown
Chioggia Uprising Chioggia organic OP Farmer-selected/PNW
Touchstone Gold Johnny's Selected Seeds Golden organic OP Gold Check
Chioggia West Coast Seeds Chioggia organic OP Heirloom
Red Ace Johnny's Selected Seeds Red organic F1 Overall Check




Golden: These varieties had poorer germination, thinner and more upright tops, and rounder roots with rougher skin and more root hairs. The best performing Golden Beets were ‘Yellow Sunrise’ from Osborne Quality Seeds and ‘Touchstone Gold’ from Wild Garden Seeds. 

Chioggia: Chioggia beets had better germination, larger and floppier tops, and more squat or disk-shaped roots with smooth skin and fewer root hairs than golden varieties. The Chioggia varieties’ performance was very similar, with the exception of ‘Golden Grex’.

Beet Top Quality

Golden: ‘Yellow Sunrise’ from Osborne and ‘Golden’ from Full Circle seeds scored best for top stature for bunching. ‘Touchstone Gold’ also scored well. ‘Golden’ from Osborne and ‘Boldor’ tended to have thinner tops. ‘Golden Grex’ from Fedco had extremely tall tops. 

Chioggia: These varieties tended to have more delicate, tender, and floppy leaves which were easily damaged when bunching but had superior eating quality. 

Beet Root Quality 

Golden: At the UBC Farm, ‘Yellow Sunrise’ from Osborne and ‘Touchstone Gold’ from Wild Garden Seeds both performed well as the top golden beet types, while at the on-farm-sites ‘Yellow Sunrise’ did much more poorly. Both strains of ‘Golden’ had much rougher skin with discolouration and more root hairs. ‘Boldor’ displayed significant scarring, cracking, and internal rot in many locations. 

Chioggia: These varieties had smoother, more hairless roots overall, with less difference between the varieties. They varied in terms of internal appearance, with the Chioggia from Uprising Seeds showing the clearest concentric circle pattern when sliced.


A public testing event was held on July 9, 2016 at the UBC Farm Farmers’ Market, where shoppers tasted varieties prepared raw and cooked, as well as a feature dish using beets. 

Golden: ‘Yellow Sunrise’ from Osborne and ‘Touchstone Gold’ from Wild Garden Seeds, and ‘Golden Grex’ from Fedco were judged to have the best flavour.

Chioggia: Chioggia from Sunshine Seeds and Chioggia Guardsmark were judged to have the best flavour.

About this research

This brief is based on the following report:

Lyon, A., Sylvestre, M., Thoreau, C., MacKinnon, S., Prasad, R. (2017). BC Seed Trials: Specialty Beet Variety Trial 2016. http://www.bcseedtrials.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/BC-Seed-Trials-Beet-Results-2016.pdf.

Project Funders and Partners