From AgWiki
Jump to: navigation, search





Cultural Practices

_____ Test soil for nutrient status and pH every year. Maintain records of test results and fertilizer applications. _____ Take extra caution applying appropriate amounts of potassium, as beets are heavy users of potassium. _____ Apply phosphorus as a preplant fertilizer or at planting.

Pesticide Management

_____ Use approved and registered pesticides according to label. _____ Maintain application records including date, location, applicator, target pest, pesticide name, EPA registration number, formulation, rate and number of acres treated are maintained. _____ All sprayers are calibrated at the start of the season. _____ Minimize pesticide drift. _____ Develop and implement a resistance management plan. _____ Select pesticides which will preserve natural enemies of pests. _____ Use separate sprayers for herbicides and insecticides. _____ Check sprayer(s) calibration at least once during the season. _____ Recalibrate each sprayer as needed. _____ Maintain records of planting dates for treated fields. _____ Keep records of stage of crop of treated field. _____ Use water-sensitive spray cards to test coverage of leaf surfaces.

Insect Pest Management

_____ Scout "SUSPECT INSECTS" .. Aphids .. Armyworms .. Bean Aphid .. Beet Leafhopper .. Cutworms .. Empoasca Leafhoppers .. False Celery Moth .. Flea Beetles .. Grasshoppers .. Green Peach Aphid .. Maggots .. Pea Leafminer .. Saltmarsh Caterpillar .. Spider Mites .. Sugarbeet Root Aphid .. Webworms .. Whiteflies .. Wireworms _____ Keep a scouting record. _____ Identify control measures and implement according to thresholds.

Disease Pest Management

_____ Identify major disease pests. _____ Keep a scouting record. _____ Identify control measures and implement according to thresholds.

Weed Pest Management

_____ Scout "SUSPECT WEEDS" .. barley, hare (Hordeum murinum subsp. leporinum) .. barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli) .. bluegrass, annual (Poa annua) .. bromegrasses (Bromus spp.) .. canarygrasses (Phalaris spp.) .. chickweeds (Stellaria spp.) .. clovers (Trifolium spp.) .. cockleburs (Xanthium spp.) .. crabgrass, large (Digitaria sanguinalis) .. cudweeds (Gnaphalium spp.) .. datura, sacred (Datura wrightii) .. docks (Rumex spp.) .. fescues (Festuca spp.) .. fiddlenecks (Amsinckia spp.) .. filarees (Erodium spp.) .. fleabane, hairy (Conyza bonariensis) .. foxtails (Setaria spp.) .. goosefoot, nettleleaf (Chenopodium murale) .. groundcherries (Physalis spp.) .. groundsels (Senecio spp.) .. henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) .. johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) .. knotweed, common (Polygonum arenastrum) .. lambsquarters, common (Chenopodium album) .. lettuce, prickly (Lactuca serriola) .. lovegrasses (Eragrostis spp.) .. mallow, little; cheeseweed (Malva parviflora) .. marestail (Hippuris vulgaris) .. lettuce, miner's (Claytonia perfoliata) .. mustards (Brassica spp.) .. nettles (Urtica spp.) .. nightshades (Solanum spp.) .. nutsedges (Cyperus spp.) .. oat, wild (Avena fatua) .. orach, halberdleaf (Atriplex triangularis) .. pigweeds (Amaranthus spp.) .. pineapple-weed (Chamomilla suaveolens) .. polypogon, rabbitfoot (Polypogon monspeliensis) .. popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys spp.) .. povertyweed, Nuttall (Monolepis nuttalliana) .. puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) .. purslane, common (Portulaca oleracea) .. radish, wild (Raphanus raphanistrum) .. redmaids; desert rockpurslane (Calandrinia ciliata) .. rocket, London (Sisymbrium irio) .. ryegrasses (Lolium spp.) .. sandburs (Cenchrus longispinus) .. shepherd's-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) .. sowthistles (Sonchus spp.) .. speedwells (Veronica spp.) .. spurge, spotted (Chamaesyce maculata) .. thistle, Russian (Salsola tragus)

_____ Prepare weed maps in mid-to-late season, indicating significant weed species and their location. _____ Use last year's scouting records to begin this year's scouting. _____ Base all herbicide rate, selection and spot or strip sprays on weed survey results. _____ Weeds may be controlled by cultivation, with no herbicide applied. _____ Use reduced rates of herbicide through banding of herbicides and cultivation. _____ Do not use herbicides of the same class on the same field in succeeding years. (Use crop rotation and corresponding herbicide selections.) _____ Prevent weeds within the field, alleys and roadways from going to seed. _____ Use an experimental plot to test different weed management techniques and record the results.

Weather and Crop Monitoring

_____ Monitor weather and crop parameters _____ Keep daily records.

Date: - Min/max temperatures: - Rainfall: - Hours of leaf wetness: - Stage of tree development (by cultivar, weekly):


Beets are a biennial crop that are often treated as an annual crop to harvest the stored sugar in the root. As the plant is growing during the vegetative stage, the sucrose is being distributed to both the tops and roots of the plant. When sucrose is being produced in excess of the needs for the plant it is stored in the root and the plant will be harvested for the sugar after 5-9 months of growth. Cooler temperatures initiate this sugar storage because the overall growth of the plant is slower and less sugar is being used for respiration and growth. As harvest becomes nearer, the plants should be depleted of nitrogen so that top growth ceases and all sucrose is being stored in the root.


Nutrient Requirements

Sugar beets require large quantities of plant nutrients divided equally between the roots and tops for high yields. Phosphorus should be applied before planting since it encourages large leaf growth, which is important in the first few weeks of growth. Potassium should also be applied before planting at high rates since sugar beets have high potassium requirements. They need twice as much potassium as they do nitrogen and as much as 10 times more than the phosphate requirements. Sugar beets survive well if the micronutrients are deficient, with the exception of manganese and boron. They are very tolerant to soil salinity and will perform well, but do not perform well acidic soils.


Nitrogen can be applied all at once, relatively little benefit comes from later applications. Each ton of sugar beet roots requires 10-15 pounds of nitrogen. Since sugar beets are harvested for their sugar, late applications of nitrogen will increase the top growth and use sugar that was in storage; however, too little nitrogen reduces yields. Sugar beets should run out of nitrogen 6-8 weeks prior to harvest. Soils should be tested to determine the proper amount of fertilizer needed on a particular field.


Phosphorus is important to the top plant growth and must be available to the plant when it is young. The fertilizer can be broadcast and plowed into the soil, which has proven to be a very effective way of application. Some soils will also require a starter fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and a soil test will help determine if this is necessary. Phosphorus will move within the plant and deficiency will first be observed in the older leaves. Sugar beets require about 1.25 pounds of phosphorus per ton of roots.


Potassium is also very important for the tops of the sugar beet plant, as much as 70% of the nutrient will be found in the leaves. When plants are suffering from a potassium deficiency, they will show stunted growth, chlorosis, and necrosis in the leaf tissue. Three to five pounds of potassium are required per ton of roots.


Nitrogen is found throughout the sugar beet plant, with highest concentrations in the growing points above ground. Phosphorus is found in highest concentrations in the meristematic region of actively growing tissues. Potassium is found in new leaves, petioles, buds, and root tips. All three nutrients are necessary for a productive harvest.


Sugar beets are an important food that can usually survive a wide range of growing conditions. However, to have a productive harvest, it is essential that aggressive management of cultural practices be enforced.

Optimal Conditions

A productive harvest is attributed to proper growing conditions. The following are several tips to maintain optimal growing conditions. Sugar beets seedlings are not as hardy as many other crops, so a well prepared seedbed helps the plants grow quickly and uniformly with plants spaced 5-12 inches apart. The plants should also maintain high levels of soil fertility throughout the entire growing season to ensure maximum sugar production and storage. In most areas, planting occurs in early spring to lengthen the growing season and accumulate more sugar reserves. In moist climates, planting can occur in all months except July and August when it is too hot. Finally, good weed control is critical, as weeds can rob as much as 80% of yields if not properly controlled.

Sugarbeet seedlings (H. F. Schwartz; Colorado State University)



Early planting, high plant population, proper spacing, good weed control, ample moisture, and high fertility are all important factors in maintaining high productivity. Of all the nutrients, nitrogen must be most closely watched so that sugar reserves are not being used to produce unnecessary top growth.


Fertilizer Economics

Since sugar beets can be grown in a variety of climatic and cultural conditions and are the main source of sucrose, they provide the backbone of many local economies. Sugar beets are also being studied as a renewable source of alcohol for fuel.

Production Economics

Well fertilized soil is extremely important in sugar beet production. Reducing fertilizer applications to save money is poor economics due to the poor overall yield that will result from these cutbacks.

Nitrogen Fertilization

The amount of nitrogen sugar beets receive is critical because deficiencies will yield small plants and excesses will rob the root of its sugar content. Sugar beets will use up the nitrogen that is available to them and top growth will continue, so the amount of nitrogen available should decrease the last month or so before harvest. When nitrogen becomes deficient and cool nights prevail, then sugars will be stored at greater quantities. During this time the overall top growth decreases and the root collects any extra sugars.




Recent research indicates that sugar beets can be significant producers of alcohol fuels. Both roots and tops can be produced into fuel, which is beneficial since none of the crop will be wasted. Fertilizer amounts may need to be adjusted if farmers wish to produce the fuels. Since less emphasis will be put into storing sugars, more nitrogen can be applied which will increase the overall bulk of the plant, all of which can be processed. The lower overall sucrose levels are sufficient for the fermentation process of alcohol.


Careful fertilizer management is required to provide sufficient nutrients throughout the season, yet have a nitrogen-deficient plant prior to harvest. Sugar beets take up only certain amounts of most nutrients, but will feed continuously on nitrogen.