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ISSUE 4   May 24, 2001



There have been millions of acres of crops seeded into soils that were less than ideal for planting this spring. As the young plants emerge and roots try to expand, some will meet resistance from compaction. If the soil remains moist from gentle rains and humid weather, it is likely that many of these plants will be able to root below the compaction layers and grow normally. However, some will not because of heavy rainfall, hot, dry conditions at the wrong time or other factors. It is not the case that plants "root to moisture". Roots grow downward with moisture if it is there, but roots will not grow through dry soil to get to moist soil. In some of our soils which crack readily when dry, it is possible that wetting and drying cycles early in the season will open some compacted zones for roots early enough to do some good. However, there will probably be many compaction related problems this summer as crops mature.

When going to the field to investigate crop progress and especially examine problem areas, carry along a good, light spade. I used to use a collapsible shovel/pick that I bought from army surplus. Now I have a light-weight graphite-handled squared-off spade that I picked up locally from a hardware store. The point is, carry something that won’t be a burden, but will do the job on tough soils. Before making a diagnosis, see how hard the ground is, examine the roots to see that they are growing down and not laterally, and consider if what you find below ground makes sense with what you see above the ground. Many problems have been solved by looking below the ground and considering the whole plant and not what you can see from the road.

Dr. Dave Franzen
NDSU Extension Soil Specialist




The 2001 season sugarbeet projected acreage for North Dakota and Minnesota are as follows:

Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Coop (SMBSC): 112,000 acres; Minn-Dak 106,000 acres; American Crystal Sugar Cooperative (ACSC) 500,000 acres. Western North Dakota growers whose sugarbeet are processed at Sidney, MT, had a projected acreage of 15,000 acres.

As of 21 May, planted acreage were as follows: SMBSC 115,000 acres (3,000 acres above the projected, and will probably plant another 1,000 acres); Minn-Dak 100,000 acres; ACSC 365,000 acres; western North Dakota 15,000 acres.

SMBSC have lost about 500 acres from heavy rain and wind damage. Cutworms in some fields are controlled with insecticides mixed with micro-rate herbicides.

Rainfall ranging from 0.15" - 1" was good for Minn-Dak growers who have replanted about 1,000 acres.

Too much rain in some counties resulting in fields too wet to work has been the major problem for ACSC growers. Hopefully, field conditions will improve to facilitate planting by 1 June.

Late planting in warmer soils would result in early seedling emergence - sugarbeet as well as their perennial friends, weeds. Consequently, micro-rate application of herbicides need to be timely.

Dr. Mohamed F. Khan
NDSU Extension Sugarbeet Specialist


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