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Plant Population for Highest Recoverable Sucrose (05/28/20)

Researchers at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota have demonstrated that a wide range of plant population with uniformly spaced plants resulted in high yield and recoverable sucrose, but plant populations of 175 to 200 plants per 100 foot of 22-inch wide rows consistently resulted in the maximum recoverable sucrose per acre. It is critical that the plants be evenly spaced within the rows.

Optimum plant population:

Researchers at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota have demonstrated that a wide range of plant population with uniformly spaced plants resulted in high yield and recoverable sucrose, but plant populations of 175 to 200 plants per 100 foot of 22-inch wide rows consistently resulted in the maximum recoverable sucrose per acre. It is critical that the plants be evenly spaced within the rows.

Populations lower than 100 plants /100 ft of row take longer for the canopy to cover the soil resulting in emergence of weeds later in the season. However, weed control is currently not a major problem for most growers since growers use herbicide tolerant technology that may be combined with soil applied herbicides.

 

Is it recommended to keep lower populations (because of pest or frost damage) or should fields be replanted?

 If planting was done early, populations of 75 to 100 evenly spaced plants per 100 ft of 22 inch rows will produce higher yields than higher plant populations planted three or more weeks later in the growing season based on research conducted at NDSU (Figure 1). It is recommended that the grower visit the field with his agriculturist and be advised whether replanting is necessary. The grower should consider whether the variety of seed suitable for his/her field is available, are conditions conducive for replanting – is there adequate moisture for germination and emergence? Any replanting of sugarbeet because of poor stands should be considered carefully.

 

When is the best time to plant sugarbeet?

One of the important factors for high sugarbeet yields is to plant as early as is practical taking into consideration the possibility for a frost in May. Most growers aim to get their sugarbeet planting done from around April 12 (when insurance comes into effect) through early May based on field conditions. Wet field conditions have delayed planting especially in the central Red River Valley from Hillsboro to East Grand Forks. The good news is that growers planting

later in the season will plant into warm and hopefully seedbeds with adequate moisture that will result in rapid and uniform emergence in about 5 to 7 days.

Cover crops.

The use of cover crops (Figure 2) such as oats, barley and wheat help to prevent reduction in sugarbeet plant stand from high winds, reduce soil erosion and also help to conserve moisture after they are killed-off with herbicide. Growers are encouraged to use cover crops especially in fields that are known to have a history of ‘blowing’ during high wind events that are common in the spring.

 

Be proactive in weed control.

In areas where beets have emerged, growers should be proactive, scout fields for weeds and take necessary measures to control weeds to avoid competition of the sugarbeet crop with weeds.

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Mohamed Khan

Extension Sugarbeet Specialist

NDSU & U of MN

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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