Pennsylvania state university statewide cultivar evaluation program model

Elsa S. Sánchez, Thomas M. Butzler, Timothy E. Elkner, Robert Pollock, Francesco Di Gioia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cultivar selection is an important managerial task for commercial farmers. Numerous available options provide marketing opportunities for farmers; however, they can also make cultivar selection time-consuming. For the past 13 years, a team of Penn State Extension educators and university faculty has implemented a new model to evaluate cultivars for key vegetable crops to assist farmers. Our approach started by building relationships within the vegetable industry with farmers, seed company representatives, and farmer-driven organizations who support our program with funding and gift-in-kind donations. We also added rigor to cultivar evaluations by conducting trials of key vegetable crops over 2 years at three locations. The results were used to develop cultivar recommendations, which were disseminated through various face-to-face and distance Extension avenues. The results were also published in refereed journals. The combination of funding, Extension products, and refereed articles led to university support. A drawback to our approach was the difficulty implementing uniform production methods at three experimental sites. The input of a statistical consultant assisted with overcoming this drawback. This model also required the use of strategies common to successful teams. Our methods are described here for those who desire to build a similar program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number370
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


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