the study and evaluation of varieties and hybrids of crops to establish their suitability for cultivation under production conditions.
The system of varietal testing in the USSR consists of station varietal testing and state varietal testing. In station varietal testing a variety is studied for two or three years in the fields of the institution that developed the variety. At the same time, production testing is carried out for one or two years at a kolkhoz or sovkhoz. The best varieties that have gone through station testing, as well as foreign-bred varieties, undergo state varietal testing, which includes expanded and competitive testing on the varietal-testing plots of the State Commission for Testing Varieties of Agricultural Crops of the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR.
Competitive varietal testing compares the yield, length of growing periods, winter-hardiness, drought resistance, resistance to lodging and shedding, disease and pest resistance, responsiveness to fertilization and irrigation, and suitability for mechanized harvesting of various varieties and hybrids. The objective of expanded varietal testing is the identification of varieties and hybrids that are suitable for competitive varietal testing in other oblasts. The most promising varieties undergo production varietal testing at kolkhozes and sovkhozes. The quality of the harvest (for example, the fiber yield and the protein, fat, and sugar content) is evaluated by the Central Laboratory of the State Commission for Varietal Testing, by inter-oblast laboratories, and by the laboratories of testing plots and research institutions. A uniform methodology is developed for the state varietal testing of each crop.
State varietal testing was begun in the USSR (RSFSR and the Ukrainian SSR) in 1923–24. Until 1931 the varietal-testing network was divided into a northern section, with seven varietal-testing plots, and a southern section, with 17 plots. By 1933 there were 346 varietal-testing plots, on which more than 1,700 varieties (116 crops) were evaluated. The number of plots had increased to 1,055 in 1937–38 and to more than 1,500 in 1976. In 1974, 11,455 varieties (184 crops) underwent varietal testing.
The data from state varietal testing are used to determine which varieties and hybrids have the best yields and are best adapted to local conditions. On the basis of the data, old varieties and hybrids that do not meet practical needs are removed from production.
P. E. MARINICH