The interaction between ethylene production and seed germination of sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) was studied. For intact fruits, deoperculated fruits and true seeds, ethylene was only produced after the start of radicle emergence. Removal of the operculum or the whole pericarp, likely allowing better water uptake and gas exchange by the true seed, actually increased the time span between the start of radicle emergence and the beginning of ethylene production compared to intact fruits. ACC (1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid), AOA (aminooxy acetic acid ), AIB (2-amino isobutyric acid) and STS (silver thiosulfate) in the imbibition medium did not influence the germination pattern. Based on these findings, the function of ethylene during the germination of sugar beet is uncertain.