While high-quality seed is strongly recommended for sugarbeet growers, seed quality alone may not be enough to ensure solid stand establishment. Growers must properly prepare their seedbed, plant and care for their beets in order to reap a harvest worth bragging about.
According to the 2017 Sugarbeet Production Guide from the North Dakota State University, sugarbeets should be planted 1”-1.25” deep for maximum germination and emergence, and seed should be 3”-4” apart in 22” rows if they are to be thinned, or 4.5”-5” apart if planting to stand.
While these general guidelines can be followed for most operations, each sugarbeet production region recommends different planting depths, widths and spacing. It is best to check with local extension services or co-op agronomists to determine the best depth and spacing. In addition, growers can visit the Syngenta Sugarbeet Planting Guide seed spacing calculator to determine seed quantity recommendations for nearly any row width.
Seed contact with moist soil is also an essential criterion for good stand establishment. Sugarbeets are planted very shallow compared to other crops, so it’s absolutely critical to get them placed into moisture so it can get to the seed. Since the upper inch of the soil can dry out rapidly, good seed-to-soil contact is needed to allow the seed to imbibe water and take up nutrients for a strong start.
Selecting quality seed and following best planting practices will certainly help build the foundation of a solid sugarbeet crop. However, to reach full yield potential, growers should consider several other factors to help spur growth and development while protecting plants.
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