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Plant Population for Highest Sugarbeet Yield and Quality (05/12/16)

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.

Plant Population for Highest Sugarbeet Yield and Quality

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 using glyphosate tolerant sugarbeet, even when populations are reduced, say by insects, diseases or wind.

We have a small percent of growers with 30 inch rows. We have not conducted research on 30 inch rows; however growers with 30 inch rows should strive for at least 225 plants per 100 foot of row. Research shows that early planting of 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 weeks later in similar growing conditions. As such, any replanting of sugarbeet because of poor stands should be carefully considered.

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 at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative and Minn-Dak Farmers’ Cooperative completed over 90% of their planting by the end of April and 99% of American Crystal’s acreage were planted by 11 of May. Since yield potential is highest in early planted beets that are not affected by frost, growers have another potentially good sugarbeet crop if they can get and maintain good plant stands. The use of cover crops such as oats, barley and wheat help to prevent reduction in 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 which are known to have a history of ‘blowing’ during high wind events common in spring.

Mohamed Khan

Extension Sugarbeet Specialist

NDSU & U of MN

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