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ISSUE 15  August 15, 2002



It is a tough year for sugarbeet production. Growers have battled with prolonged cold spells, frost, high winds, hail, and heavy rainfall. To date, growers are winning the battle. Growers at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMBSC) and Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative (Minn-Dak) have a good crop of sugarbeet and are expecting a 20 T/A yield. This will translate into a 2.4 million ton crop for SMBSC and a 2 million ton crop from Minn-Dak. American Crystal Sugar Company (ACSC) growers had to cope with many deleterious problems during the season. As such, ACSC is expecting an average yield of less than 17 T/A and a 7.5 million ton crop.



Late-season weed control continues to be a problem. Fields with low to medium weed infestation may be cleaned using hand weeding. Heavy weed infestation would require the use of stalk choppers or weed sickles to cut weeds above the sugarbeet canopy. Stalk choppers would also be required at harvesting, prior to using the defoliator. Effective weed control is an expensive input but it is necessary to facilitate a fast and efficient harvest.


Cercospora leaf spot

Most growers are doing a good job at controlling Cercospora using fungicides. Growers, by having their fields scouted and using the Cercospora Advisory from their respective factory districts, can cut their production cost by reducing their number of fungicide applications when they spray only when necessary, rather than on a calendar basis.

Bacterial leaf spot

Many sugarbeet fields are infected with Bacterial leaf spot. Generally, Bacterial leaf spot occurs in late May-June and does not cause economic damage. However, there is a need to evaluate some of the newer varieties that are resistant to other major sugarbeet diseases but appear to be more susceptible to bacterial leaf spot. There is no treatment recommended for controlling Bacterial leaf spot.

Rhizoctonia root rot

This disease is becoming more severe in sugarbeet, especially in areas with shorter rotations of soybeans. Research is ongoing to determine the best time for applying Quadris to control Rhizoctonia. Hopefully, resistant varieties will be available soon to growers.

Aphanomyces root rot

Warm, wet fields resulted in numerous fields having Aphanomyces. Infected roots do not store well in piles because of their high respiration rates, and these roots serve as focal points for ‘hot spots’ in storage piles. Fields with more than 50% infections are usually destroyed. Fields infected with Aphanomyces that will not be destroyed should be harvested during pre-pile so that they do not go into long-term storage.


This disease is becoming more widespread in the Red River Valley. Above ground symptoms appear as patches of plants with poor growth and light yellow or yellow green foliage, similar to nitrogen deficiency. However, unlike nitrogen deficiency, infected plants have narrow leaves with long and erect petioles. Plants with these foliar symptoms will have stunted taproots that have masses of hairy secondary roots along the sides and tip of the root, giving it a ‘bearded’ appearance. Growers should have their fields scouted now for Rhizomania.

Management: Growers that have fields with root diseases should ensure that the particular diseases are correctly identified and recorded. NDSU Diagnostic Laboratory can diagnose all sugarbeet diseases. Fields with a known root disease should then be managed accordingly. The best option is to use, when available, resistant varieties. Most of the resistant varieties approved are being improved to produce yields comparable to conventional non-resistant varieties.

Mohamed Khan
NDSU/U of MN Ext. Sugarbeet Specialist
(701) 231-8596

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