Optimal Plot Dimensions for Performance Testing of Hybrid Potato in the Field


Field trials to evaluate the performance of new varieties are an essential component of potato breeding. Besides the genetic differences, environmental factors can lead to variation in a trial. In variety trials, the observed differences amongst varieties should reflect genetic differences, without a large impact of the random or systematic variation in the field. One way to reduce within-field variation is to adjust the plot size and its shape in a trial. Two years of field trials in which individual plants in 90-plant plots of both diploid hybrid and tetraploid varieties were measured provided data to derive relationships between LSD% and plot size and shape. We provide a method to estimate the equations to calculate the expected variation when using different plot dimensions in a relatively homogeneous trial field for tuber yield, tuber volume, tuber count, tuber shape and the standard deviations of tuber volume and shape. Compared with the yield traits, the variation for tuber shape was relatively small. The effect of plot shape was minor. With these equations, breeders can determine what plot dimensions are needed to reach the desired precision for each trait.