From monogerm sugar-beet seed as harvested non-viable fruits have to be eliminated, multigerm ones rejected and the size made sufficiently uniform for use in precision drills. Seed which had been gently rubbed to remove some of the cortex was graded for diameter, thickness and by aspiration, either singly or in combination. Effects of grading were determined by laboratory germination tests, radiography and field sowings in which seedling emergence and crop growth and yield were recorded.
Grading by thickness was effective in removing multigerm fruits. Grading by aspiration and diameter rejected non-viable seed and reduced the variation in size. By combining all three grading methods, samples of seed of 80% germination and 90% monogermity were produced, provided the seed lot as threshed gave at least 50% germination. True seed weight increased with fruit diameter but only the first aspiration was effective in removing light true seeds. Radiography showed that both aspiration and, to a less extent, grading by diameter were effective in removing most empty fruits but neither eliminated those with shrivelled seed. The field experiments confirmed that increase in fruit diameter or aspiration gave more seedlings. Even at uniform, high plant density, sugar yields were less from the smallest (less than 3 mm diameter) than from the other grades of seed. The initial aspiration also improved sugar yield but further aspiration decreased yield.