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Choosing Vegetable Varieties for South Dakota

Updated February 28, 2024
Professional headshot of Rhoda Burrows

Rhoda Burrows

Professor & SDSU Extension Horticulture Specialist

Seed catalogs and local greenhouses offer many more vegetable varieties than you could possibly fit in your garden plot. So, how do you choose?

Narrow the possibilities with these suggestions:

  • For best results, buy from a reputable company. You may pay a little more, but it is worth it for clean, true-to-type disease-free seed with good germination rates. It costs money to maintain these standards, so cheap seed is less likely to be of high quality.
  • Check the number of days to maturity listed in the description. Although this changes somewhat depending on temperature, you can still make comparisons relative to other varieties. If you live in the upper Black Hills or the northern part of the state, a variety that requires 120 days would not have time to mature properly.
  • Plant form: Is there room for long vines of squash and pumpkin, or do you need to look for bush varieties? Do you need to save space by trellising pole beans or cucumbers, or do you prefer the ease of bush plants? Do you need smaller plants for container growing? Is your area windy? If so, you may want to choose shorter-growing varieties.
  • For most of South Dakota, it is a good idea to look for “heat-tolerant” or “widely adapted” in the description, especially for cool-loving crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, etc. For early-spring or late maturing crops, look for the term “frost tolerant” on the label or in the description.
  • If you want added nutrition, look for “health-enhanced” varieties. For example, dark-red watermelon and tomato varieties have more lycopene than yellow-fleshed, and there are dark orange carrots that have been bred for their high vitamin A content.

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