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Sugarbeet Plant Population for Highest Recoverable Sucrose (05/20/21)

Researchers at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota have demonstrated that a wide range of plant populations that are uniformly spaced resulted in high tonnage 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.

Researchers at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota have demonstrated that a wide range of plant populations that are uniformly spaced resulted in high tonnage 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 was critical that the plants were evenly spaced within the rows to facilitate harvesting.

Populations lower than 100 plants /100 ft of row took a longer time 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 since most growers effectively use glyphosate combined with soil applied herbicides in their operations.

Most growers were able to complete planting by early May. However, dry conditions in some areas have resulted in less than ideal populations. It is recommended that producers who planted early with populations of 75 to 100 evenly spaced plants should not replant. Research done at NDSU indicated that populations of 75 to 100 plants per 100 ft of row had greater yields than higher populations that were planted three or more weeks later in the growing season (Figure 1).  Growers with less than ideal populations should consult with their agriculturist and be advised whether replanting is necessary. The grower should consider whether the variety of seed suitable for his/her field is available, and whether conditions are conducive for replanting – is there adequate moisture for germination and emergence? Any replanting of sugarbeet because of poor stands should be considered carefully.

The use of cover crops such as oats, barley and wheat helps to prevent reduction in sugarbeet plant stand from high winds, reduce soil erosion and also helps 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 is common in spring. 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

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