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Cultivation of sugar beet

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Crop rotation

Crop rotation
The best predecessor of sugar beet in the rotation are considered fertilized winter crops.

According to experimental and industrial institutions, in areas with insufficient moisture yields and their stability depends on the provision of plants with water. The highest and most stable yields in these conditions are obtained when placing sugar beet after winter crops, going after black, early and seeded fertilized fallows, and perennial grasses of the first year of use, such as clover and Hungarian sainfoin.

In the arid forest-steppe and steppe regions of Altai Krai, according to the Biysk experimental station, the optimal predecessors are bare fallow, spring wheat and winter rye after bare fallow.

In the Asian part of Russia, bare fallow, spring wheat, corn and leguminous crops are the predecessors of sugar beet.

In conditions of sufficient moisture in Ukraine, with an annual amount of precipitation above 500 mm, sugar beet is placed after the winter, going after perennial grasses and after the seeded fallows, such as winter, legume-cereal mixtures for green forage.

According to the results of experiments Uladovo-Lulinetskaya experimental station All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Sugar Beet, the average yield of sugar beet root crops for 9 years after winter on clover first year of use was 42.0 t/ha, after winter crops on pea fallow – 36.3 t / ha.

According to the All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute, in the northern and central parts of the Central Black Earth zone, sugar beet is effectively placed after winter cereals following perennial and annual grasses for green fodder and hay, corn for green fodder or peas for grain. In the southern and eastern parts of the Central Black Earth zone – for winter cereals following bare or early fallow.

In the beet-growing areas of the Non-Black Soil Zone, Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania in addition to winter crops following fertilized seeded fallows, potatoes are considered a good predecessor.

Under irrigated conditions the best predecessors for sugar beet are winter or spring wheat following perennial grasses (alfalfa in the first year of use), seeded fallow, corn, potatoes, winter crops following leguminous plants, leguminous plants and vegetable crops.

According to the data of Kyrgyz Research Institute of Agriculture, in 9 years on average sugar beet yields after winter crops following grasses of the first year of use amounted to 61.0 t/ha, after two years of use – 59.4 t/ha, after three years of use – 58.5 t/ha. When sown after winter cereals in vetch-oat fallow, the yield was 51.1 t/ha.

Sugar beet is not sown after winter crops following the second year in a row. This is due to a decrease in yield, sugar content and an increase in the weediness of the fields.

Table. Productivity of sugar beet on different predecessors

Yield, t/ha
Sugar content, %
Sugar harvest, t/ha
All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute
Fallow black - winter wheat
Perennial grasses - winter wheat
Льговская опытно-селекционная станция
Fallow black - winter wheat
Clover of the first year of use - winter wheat

Repeated and permanent crops

In the rotation sugar beet can be returned to its original place not earlier than 3-4 years, in the case of soil infestation by nematode – in 4-5 years.

Sugar beet sharply reduces the yield of repeated and permanent crops, especially in areas with insufficient or unstable moisture. Repeated sowing leads to severe depletion of soil, as beet takes a lot of nutrients with the crop and the spread of diseases and pests of sugar beet – root rot, cercosporosis, root aphid and beet nematode. The latter is especially favored by permanent crops, and nematodes can destroy up to 40% of the crop.

Repeated sowing of sugar beet, that is not more than two years in a row, is justified only in the conditions of irrigated agriculture and sufficient fertilization in order to saturate the sugar beet crop rotation up to 30%.

Sugar beet as a forecrop

Sugar beet is a good forecrop for various crops. For example, after sugar beet can be placed corn (with a sufficient supply of moisture), millet, early spring cereals, leguminous crops, annual grasses.

When using intensive technologies of cultivation of crops, sugar beet fields contribute to improving the culture of agriculture and soil fertility.


The system of sugar beet fertilization must be designed so as to provide the beet during intensive growth with the necessary amount of nutrients. To do this in areas of insufficient and unstable moisture mineral and organic fertilizers under autumn tillage, mineral – in rows during sowing. In areas of sufficient moisture also carry out top dressing.

Sugar beet is very responsive to all types of fertilizers, especially when grown under irrigation. On average, the increase in root crop in different zones ranges from 6.2 to 23 t/ha.

Features of fertilizer use

After sprouting, the main part of the beet root system is located in the top soil layer 10-15 cm deep. In areas with insufficient and unstable moisture in July-August, this layer periodically dries up, and the most active part of the root system develops in layers 15-30 cm, which are more or less constantly moistened. For this reason, deeper fertilizer placement is required in areas of insufficient moisture.

In well-wetted areas, where rainfall and rainfall uniformity are higher, the efficiency of deep seeding is lower. Under these conditions, even with fertilizer in the top layer of 10-15 cm, which is constantly moistened, the nutrients are quite accessible to the root system of plants.

Introduction of 30 t/ha of half-digested manure in sugar beet ensures yield increase in conditions of insufficient moisture content of 50-90 kg per 1 ton, in conditions of unstable moisture content – 150-210 kg/t, in a zone of sufficient moisture content – 160-250 kg/t.

In conditions of sufficient moisture the manure in the amount of 30-40 t/ha is applied under the sugar beet. Under unstable moisture in the same dosage – under forecrop (wheat or fallow-occupied crop) at 20-30 t/ha, except for perennial grasses, in the latter case, the manure is introduced directly under the sugar beet. Manure is applied in autumn under the autumn tillage, the gap between spreading and plowing is not allowed. Distribution of organic fertilizers on the field is carried out with the help of spreaders ПРТ-10, ПРТ-16 or РОУ-5, mineral – centrifugal spreaders 1-РМГ-4, РУМ-8, КСА-3.

The efficiency of green manure application for sugar beet was shown. When green manure is plowed in September-October, the yield increase reaches 13-14 t/ha.

Per one ton of mineral fertilizer (NPK) in beet-sowing areas with their correct application, the yield increase is 10 tons, or 1.5 tons of sugar, in the Non-Black Soil Zone and under irrigation conditions – 15-20 tons of root crops, or 2-3 tons of sugar.

To increase the effectiveness of mineral fertilizers, they are made at different depths of the arable layer and at different times. To do this, apply the main fertilizer in autumn under deep plowing, row fertilizer – at sowing and top dressing during the growing season of plants.

According to the recommendations of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Sugar Beet, mineral fertilizers for sugar beet are made:

  • in areas of insufficient moisture – 90-100% of the application rate is made in the autumn under deep plowing, the remainder – in the rows;
  • in the zone of unstable moisture – under deep plowing and in rows, if necessary, if during plowing was made insufficient amount of basic fertilizer in the top dressing;
  • in conditions of sufficient moisture – under deep plowing phosphorus and potash fertilizers, nitrogen fertilizers during pre-sowing cultivation, in the rows at sowing and one or two top dressing.

If nitrogen fertilizers are supposed to be applied in the autumn, they are applied in ammonium form to prevent nitrogen washout.

According to the research of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Sugar Beet, the introduction of basic nutrients in optimal proportions can increase the sugar content of roots by 0.2-0.4%. Excess nitrogen, made more than the recommended doses, leads to a decrease in sugar content by 0.3-0.4%, especially after perennial leguminous grasses, as well as technological properties of roots. Phosphorus increases sugar content by 0.2-0.3% and potassium by 0.3-0.6%. Phosphorus and potassium fertilizers in optimum doses improve technological properties by reducing the content of soluble nitrogen compounds and increasing the quality of the juice.

Under deep autumn tillage in all zones of sugar beet cultivation mineral fertilizers are applied at least 80% of the annual requirement of plants.

Row fertilization

In the initial period of growth of sugar beet plants, when the root system is poorly developed, an important role is played by row fertilization, which are usually applied in the form of mixtures of simple or compound fertilizers. Nitrophoska in some cases has an advantage, especially when added to the granulated superphosphate in a ratio of 2:1.

Experiments Kuban Agricultural Institute showed that the application of simple mixtures on carbonate chernozem increased the yield of roots by 2.7 t/ha, nitrofoska – by 3.4 t/ha; sugar content, respectively, was 16.4 and 17.1%. On leached chernozem added 4.9 and 6.1 t/ha, sugar content, respectively, 16.2% and 16.6%.

The recommended rate of fertilization in the rows when sowing N10P15-20K10-20 simultaneously with granulated insecticides.

Top dressing

Top dressing of sugar beet crops can control the growth processes and increase the yield of root crops by 3-4 t/ha if the fertilizer is applied in moist soil.

Under rainfed conditions during the cultivation of sugar beet by industrial technology fertilizing carried out in the period from the appearance of full sprouts until the phase of the fifth pair of leaves. Fertilization in a later period usually leads to a decrease in sugar content and technological properties of roots.

Embedding fertilizer under dressing is carried out to a depth of 10 cm. When embedding do not allow leaving a gap after the working bodies, which increases the loss of moisture and reduces the effectiveness of fertilizers, especially nitrogen fertilizers.

Under irrigated conditions, the importance of top dressing increases. The first fertilization is carried out after thinning or before the first watering, the second – before the second watering. Rate of application for the first feeding is N30P10K20 (according to other data N30P60[1] V.V. Kolomeychenko. Crop growing. – Moscow: Agrobiznescenter, 2007. – 600 с. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6. Page. 383), in the second – N20P20K20 (according to other data N15P30K30[2]V.V. Kolomeychenko. Crop production/textbook. – Moscow: Agrobiznesentr, 2007. – 600 с. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6. Page. 383).

In the forest-steppe zone, fertilize after thinning in an amount of N20P20K20.

Fertilizer is applied during top-dressing by cultivator-plant feeders, for example, УСМК-5.4А, УСМК-5.4Б. When using liquid fertilizers – ПОУ-1 in aggregate with cultivator-plant feeders.

Recommended fertilizer application rates

When cultivating sugar beet by industrial technology research institutions for sugar beet depending on the zone, soil type, its cultivation and predecessors are recommended rates of fertilizer.

In areas with sufficient moisture:

  • on sod-carbonate soils of Latvia and Lithuania in a crop rotation link with perennial grasses – N120P180K220; in a link with seeded fallow – N150P180K200;
  • on sod-podzolic and sandy loam soils in Belarus in the links with grasses and seeded fallow – N130-150P140K190-210;
  • on peat soils depending on conditions of cultivated state – N0-50P160K220;
  • on sod-podzol soils of Latvia and Lithuania – N150-180P140-180K190-200;
  • on heavy chernozems of western Ukraine in the rotation with fallow on a background of 30 t/ha of manure is N140P170K140, in the link with perennial grasses – N120P160K140;
  • on low humus leached chernozems Right Bank Ukraine in the link with a seeded fallow on a background of 20 t/ha of manure – N170P160K180; in the link with grasses – N140P160K190; in the link with winter cereals, coming after peas – N170P160K190.

In this zone, the bulk of phosphorus and potash fertilizer is made in autumn under deep plowing, nitrogen fertilizers – in spring under cultivation. 20% of the annual rate of mineral fertilizer is made in rows during sowing in the rate of N10P15-20K10 and N30P30K30 in top dressing.

In the zone of unstable moisture:

  • on low-humus leached chernozems of Ukraine in the link with fallow make N140P150K150; in the link pea-winter-beet – N140P150K170. In this zone the annual fertilizer rate is made in autumn under deep plowing, leaving a small amount for row fertilization in the form of compound fertilizers and superphosphate, the rate at the row application of N10P20K10. Top dressing is carried out if necessary;
  • on low-humus leached chernozem soils of the Central Black Earth zone – N130-160P140-180K110-140; in the Volga region and Bashkiria – N120-150P140-170K110-160;
  • on dark-gray soils and podzolized chernozems in the Central and Volga-Vyatka regions – N140-170P160-190K160-190;
  • on weakly leached chernozems of the Northern Caucasus – N120P120K110.

In the link with perennial grasses nitrogen norms are reduced by 30 kg/ha, potassium – increased by 20 kg/ha, phosphorus – left unchanged.

In the zone of insufficient moisture:

  • on chernozems slightly saline soils fertilizer rates – N90P120K60;
  • on saline and solonetzic chernozems – N110P130;
  • ordinary and thick chernozems – N110P150K80-100;
  • dark gray forest soils and podzoled chernozems – N140P130K140.

In the zone of insufficient moisture mineral fertilizers are used in autumn under deep plowing, in the rows during sowing also make N10P15-20K10.

In general, it is recommended on the gray forest podzolized soils the predominance of nitrogen and potassium fertilizers, on chernozem – phosphorus. If the sugar beet is placed after the winter, one year after perennial grasses or black fallow, the rate of nitrogen is reduced by 20-25% and increase the rate of potassium by 10-15%. For beet after peas, the application rate of potassium is increased by 15-20%. Average rates for different regions of beet growing N90-180P110-170K100-190.

Nitrogen fertilizers

Nitrogen for sugar beet is applied in the form of ammonium nitrate, but sodium nitrate is more effective. Under plowing, ammonia water and ammonia-carbon can also be applied.

For top dressing use the same nitrogen fertilizers or urea.

Under the beets can be made complex and liquid complex fertilizers.

Phosphate fertilizer

Phosphate fertilizers are usually used in the form of granulated superphosphate. Experiments carried out at the Uladovo-Lulinets Experimental Selection Station of the All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute showed that the increase of root crop yield when applying granulated superphosphate at the rate of 30 kg/ha P2O5 was 3.7 t/ha, at the Lgovskaya Experimental Selection Station of the All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute – 2.6 t/ha, at Belotserkovskaya – 3.3 t/ha.

According to the recommendations of the All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute, phosphate fertilizers containing water-soluble forms of phosphorus, such as all types of superphosphate, and complex fertilizers (ammophos, diammophos) in rainfed and irrigated conditions in neutral and alkaline soils should be made under deep plowing. Phosphate fertilizers containing phosphorus in insoluble forms, such as phosphate slag, defluorinated phosphate, precipitate, phosphate flour, use on acidic soils (podzolic, sod-podzolic, gray forest, leached and podzolized black earth) for tillage.

Potassium fertilizers

From potassium fertilizers potassium chloride is used for sugar beet. It is especially effective in the southern chernozem, chestnut and gray-meadow soils.

A combination of potassium chloride and potassium sulfate fertilizers is effective, especially at the beginning of the growing season. Thus, the combination of potassium chloride and sulfuric acid in the crop rotation on the average for 8 years increased the yield of roots by 2.6 t/ha on the salted chernozem of the Lgov experimental station, compared with the use of potassium chloride alone.

Mixed potassium salt and crude salts (kainite, sylvinite), which contain magnesium sulfate and magnesium chloride as impurities, as well as trace elements, are effective for autumn tillage. On soils with a low content of exchangeable sodium (podzolic and leached chernozems, podzolic and gray forest soils) may need to apply sodium in the form of table salt. Raw and mixed potassium fertilizers provide the sugar beet need for this element. Raw potassium salts can be used on all soils, including acidic soils after liming and manure application.

On saline soils, potassium fertilizers, especially with low potassium content, are not applied.

Defecation mud

In the sugar beet-growing areas where the sugar beet processing plants are located, defecation mud (defecate) is a characteristic waste product and, at the same time, a local organic fertilizer. It mainly consists of calcium carbonate, some nitrogen (0.6%), phosphorus (1.2%) and magnesium.

According to the All-Union Research Institute of Sugar Beet, the application of dry defecation mud in autumn under plowing in an amount of 3.5-5 t/ha on soils with increased acidity contributed to the growth of yield by 2.0-6.3 t/ha. The effect also had an impact on the yield of subsequent crops in the crop rotation.

In the forest-steppe zone, especially in the Non-Black Earth zone on leached chernozem soils and forest loams, on podzolic soils with increased acidity defecate is introduced directly under the beet or winter crops as a predecessor. Rate of defecate application depends on soil acidity, and usually amounts to 2-5 tons/ha.

On ordinary chernozem soils of the steppe zone the effectiveness of defecation mud is reduced.


A great influence on the growth and development of sugar beet has a micro-fertilizers, primarily boric, manganese and copper.

Boron fertilizer

Boron fertilizer is recommended in all beet-growing areas where damage to beet roots by heart rot is observed. Typically, the need for boron is observed in limestone soils, on the fields with gley dark-colored waterlogged soils in the podzol zone. Boron fertilizer is introduced in the form of boron-datolite meal at a rate of 75-100 kg per 1 ha, or in terms of boron – up to 1.5 kg/ha, or boron-manganese waste at a rate of 50-75 kg per 1 ha.

Copper fertilizers

Copper microfertilizers are usually used on peat soils, where there is a lack of copper. They are made in the form of copper sulfate in an amount of – 20-25 kg/ha. Copper-containing fertilizer is applied once every 4-5 years.

Manganese fertilizer

Manganese fertilizers are most effective on chernozem, gray forest and saline soils, on which the yield increase from their application up to 1,4-3,4 t/ha.

Manganese is introduced in the form of manganese slurry containing 12-22% for deep plowing at a rate of 300-400 kg/ha, or manganized superphosphate with manganese content of 1,5-2,5% for plowing and sowing in doses specified for granulated superphosphate.


Basic tillage

In spring, after harvesting the forecrop, discing is carried out, which contributes to the conservation of moisture in the soil, better use of precipitation during the autumn-winter period, the agrotechnical method of weed control. Disking with spherical tools for these purposes is more effective, it is carried out with ПЛ-5-25, ППЛ-10-25.

According to the All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute, soil disking gave an increase of roots at the Gribanovsky reference point – 1.5 t/ha, at the Ramonsky station – 2.2 t/ha, at the Nizhnekislyaysky reference point – 3.5 t/ha.

Table. Effect of basic tillage on sugar beet yield and productivity (All-Union Research Institute of Sugar Beet)

Experience option
Roots yield, t/ha
Sugar content in roots, %
Sugar harvest, 100 kg/ha
Plowing without discing to a depth of 28-30 cm in August
Disking at 4-5 cm with harrowing, plowing to a depth of 28-30 cm in August
Discing with spherical tools at 10-12 cm with harrowing, plowing to a depth of 28-30 cm in August
Disking at 4-5 cm, discing with spherical tools at 10-12 cm with harrowing, plowing to a depth of 28-30 cm in September

According to the All-Union Research Institute of Sugar Beet, sugar yield from discing increased by 0.26 t/ha, while discing with spherical tools – by 0.33 t/ha.

On fertilized backgrounds (N90, P120, K90 and N45, P60, K45) the efficiency of discing increases. On the first background with plowing in September the yield increase from discing was 3.0 t/ha, with double discing – 4.0-4.9 t/ha compared with plowing without discing.

Significant increase in yield and its stability makes discing mandatory technique of the main cultivation of the sugar beet crops.

After harvesting winter crops in the summer and autumn period, if the company has sufficient technical equipment, winter tillage is carried out by the improved or half-fallow method. Improved method is more effective in areas of unstable and insufficient moisture with a long summer-autumn period, especially when the fields are heavily littered with perennial weeds, such as sedge (Sonchus) and couch grass (Elytrigia repens). The improved method involves the performance of two stubble discing after harvesting winter crops and deep autumn plowing. The first discing is carried out by discing tools in two tracks at 5-6 cm (according to other data 6-8 cm[3]Farming and crop production. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: “Bylina”, 2000. – 555 с. Page. 409.). After 10-14 days repeat discing (or shallow plowing to a depth of 16-18 cm) with disk-tillers or plough-disker to a depth of 12-14 cm in aggregate with heavy tooth harrows, in dry weather – with ring-shrew compactors type ЗККШ-6. When soil crust appears or weeds grow, 1-2 discing or cultivation is carried out. Plowing is carried out in September-October to a depth of 30-32 cm with plows with skimmers or tiered plows. Two-tier plowing, when the top layer of 0-15 cm is placed at the bottom of the furrow, and the bottom 15-30 cm rises to the surface, allows to properly incorporate crop residues and reduce the weediness of the fields by 20-40%.

Half-fallow method is effective when the fields are heavily weeded with annual weeds. The method involves discing of stubble after harvesting the previous crop in 1-2 trails, deep plowing with ploughs with skimmers in late July or the first half of August in the unit with ring-spiked rollers and harrows. Then, as precipitation falls, the ploughed field is harrowed 1 or 2 times with heavy tooth harrows or cultivators of general purpose in aggregate with them, and when weeds grow, perform 1-2 cultivations. At the end of autumn (October) perform non-moldboard tillage to a depth of 16-20 cm by ploughs with removed mouldboards, flat-cutting ploughs, ploughs or plough-disker.

In case of thick humus layer the depth of tillage should be not less than 30 cm.

In the case of strong flooding during winter-spring period, such as floodplains, deep tillage is carried out after the disappearance of water to 28-30 cm.

In the Altai Territory, when placing beets on bare fallow, the cultivation is carried out in autumn by disc-tillers or flat-cutters.

In conditions of possible development of wind or water erosion, non-moldboard tillage is carried out with flat-cutters and needle harrows.

In the Non-Black Soil Zone (Bryansk, Tula, Orel, Ryazan regions) early August autumn tillage is effective with subsequent tillage on the type of half-fallow. Disking is carried out here with spherical tools.

Herbicides can be used against root weeds, such as sedge (Sonchus) and loosestrife, which grow after discing. To do this, the field is treated with 2,4-D amine salt at a rate of 1-2 kg/ha of the drug during the emergence of the developed rosette in Sonchus after discing. Against annual and perennial cereal weeds, including couch grass (Elytrigia repens), dalapon is used in autumn at a dose of 8.5-17 kg/ha a.s. (according to other data 8-10 kg/ha [4]Basics of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: “Bylina”, 2000. – 555 с. Page. 410) or in spring before sowing – sodium trichloroacetate at a dose of 4.5-12.6 kg/ha a.s. (according to other data 20-25 kg/ha[5]Basics of agricultural production technology. Farming and crop production. Edited by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: “Bylina”, 2000. – 555 с. Page. 410) After tillage, plowing or husking is carried out in 7-10 days.

In all beet-growing regions, especially in the steppe zone, snow retention is effective to increase soil moisture reserves. It is carried out by snowploughs-roller-formers СВУ-2,6. The swaths are made perpendicular to the direction of prevailing winds.

Presowing tillage

Spring tillage consists of early spring loosening, leveling the surface of the field and pre-sowing tillage. In conditions of high moisture and soil density, loosening to a depth of 7-8 cm with simultaneous rolling before the pre-sowing tillage is carried out. Timely and high-quality performance of these techniques allows you to save moisture, create a loosened soil layer to a depth of 3 cm with a lump size of not more than 2 cm in the absence of depressions over 3 cm.

For loosening the soil use units of heavy or medium-sized tooth harrows in the front row and sowing harrows such as ЗБП-0.6А or ЗОР-0.7 in the back row. Leveling is carried out by units of plume harrows ШБ-2,5 in the front row and harrows like ЗБП-0,6 or ЗОР-0,7 in the back row. In case of loose condition of the field surface and rapid soil maturity leveling and loosening is performed by one unit of plume-borons and gear harrows in one or two passes. On waterlogged and compacted soils, heavy tooth harrows are placed in front and plumes behind.

Special beet cultivators УСМК-5,4А and УСМК-5,4Б, which in some cases are additionally equipped with spiral rotors or harrows, are effective for quality pre-sowing soil preparation. On heavy swampy soils it may be necessary to carry out 2-3 tillage operations to the depth of 6-8 and 8-10 cm by cultivators with lancet tines.

In conditions of insufficient moisture it is necessary to sow as soon as possible (1-2 days) in order not to allow moisture loss. In practice, this means that seeders should go immediately after the units that perform pre-sowing cultivation and herbicide application.

In the Altai region after the application of fertilizers in May – early June, plowing is carried out. Subsequent tillings are carried out by cultivators. In September, non-moldboard loosening to a depth of 27-30 cm is used.

Pre-sowing herbicide application

In areas with sufficient moisture the fields clogged with annual dicotyledonous and cereal weeds are recommended to be treated before sowing with pyramine (phenazone) at a dose of 2.4-4.8 kg/ha a.s. or venzar (lenacil) at a dose of 0.8-1.6 kg/ha a.i. In case of mixed weed, use a combination of pyramine and sodium trichloroacetate herbicides at a rate of 3 + 6.3 kg/ha a.s. or venzar and sodium trichloroacetate at a rate of 1.2-1.6 + 6.3 kg/ha a.s.

In the unstable moisture zone of the Central Black Earth zone and the North Caucasus to control annual cereal and dicotyledonous weeds use mixtures of ronite with sodium trichloroacetate at a rate of 4-5 + 7-9 kg/ha a.i, venzar with sodium trichloroacetate at a rate of 1.2-1.6 + 6.3 kg/ha a.i. or dichloralurea and venzar at a rate of 7.2-10 + 0.8-1.2 kg/ha a.i. In the same moisture conditions of Ukrainian and Moldavian regions with mixed weed infestation use venzar with sodium trichloroacetate or ronit with sodium trichloroacetate.

In areas with insufficient moisture at mixed weed infestation of fields with a predominance of annual cereal and dicotyledonous weeds use Eptham at the rate of 2-6 kg/ha a.s. or a mixture of Ronit and sodium trichloroacetate.

The efficiency of pre-sowing application of herbicides depends on compliance with the norms of drug consumption and uniformity of their distribution on the soil surface, which is achieved by using boom sprayers, such as ПОУ or ОН-400-3.

For qualitative embedding of herbicides and elimination of local deviations from application rates combine herbicide application and pre-sowing tillage, combined aggregates are equipped with markers. Boom with sprayers should be mounted in front of cultivators УСМК-5.4А or УСМК-5.4Б. In case of strip application of herbicides, ПОУ is used, and seeders are equipped with a device for application and embedding of preparations.

On heavily weedy fields it may be necessary to carry out post-emergent herbicide treatment, which in all zones is carried out in the phase of one to two pairs of true leaves by Betanal at a dose of 0.95-1.3 kg/ha a.s. Herbicide is effective against annual dicotyledonous weeds.


Seed preparation

Sugar beet seeds are considered to be of good quality when the weight of 1000 globules is at least 25 g for multiseed diploid varieties, at least 15 g for single-seeded diploid varieties, at least 30 g for polyploid multiseed varieties. For sowing, use the zoned varieties or hybrids.

To improve friability and uniformity of globules, they are grinded, which removes up to 30% (by weight) of pericarp. Grinding allows tubers to be distributed more evenly in the row during sowing.

It is possible to cultivate multi-stemmed varieties with a minimum of manual labour by segmenting the cores, i.e. by cutting or crushing them into separate fruits, in which case the seeds become technically one-stemmed. Such seeds have some advantages over seeds of genetically one-growing varieties: higher yield and higher sugar content of root crops, less tendency to flowering.

Seeds may be subjected to pelleting, in which the previously ground or segmented seeds are covered with covers of special pelleting mass, and the seeds themselves become spherical in shape. For this purpose a mixture of neutralized peat and dried, crushed and sifted through a sieve with 0.25-0.5 mm holes, with the addition of adhesives such as liquid cow dung, polyacrylamide or bentonite (colloidal clay) is used. Minerals, bacterial fertilizers, and microfertilizers can be added to the mixture. Drained seeds are subjected to fractionation, with a weight of 1000 pieces: fractions of 3,5-4,5 mm – 30-45 g, fractions of 4,5-5,5 mm – 60-70 g.

Coated seeds are well suited for dispersed sowing due to good uniformity and flowability, which increases the accuracy of sowing and uniformity of plant placement. Laboratory germination of coated seeds should be at least 85%.

The use of coated seeds and herbicide treatment reduces manual labor costs for the formation of plant density.

In order to get uniform sprouts early on sugar beet seeds are prepared before sowing: air-sun heating and pre-sowing soaking for 1-2 days in water at room temperature, followed by drying until crumbly.

Seeds of factory production are additionally fractionated for precise sowing and dressed with aqueous suspension of Granozan at the rate of 2-4 liters of the preparation per 1 ton of seeds or TMTD at the rate of 4-6 liters per ton.

Timing of sowing

Early sowing terms are preferred for sugar beet, as they improve conditions for seed germination, sprouts appear evenly, and the vegetation period is lengthened. Early dates contribute to an increase in yield and sugar content of roots.

However, sowing too early involves the risk of sowing into insufficiently mature, cold, damp soil, which is poorly loosened, resulting in a reduction in yield. Sprouts sown too early are more prone to damage by root weevil, weevil, and can also be damaged by frost.

The optimum sowing date is when the soil is physically mature, which coincides with the optimum sowing dates of major cereal crops.

Table. Effect of sowing and harvesting dates on the yield and productivity of sugar beet as exemplified by the variety Ramonskaya 06 (All-Union Research Institute of Sugar Beet)

Сроки посева
simultaneously with the beginning of sowing of early cereal crops
after 7 days
after 14 days
after 21 days
after 28 days
Harvest on September 20
Yield, t/ha
Sugar content, %
Sugar harvest, t/ha
Harvest on October 20
Yield, t/ha
Sugar content, %
Sugar harvest, t/ha

As a rule, the sowing of sugar beets begins when the soil at a depth of 5-7 cm warms to 6-8 °C. At the optimum sowing time, the soil should be well crumbled and contain enough moisture. Under these conditions, delayed sowing for every one day leads to a shortfall of 0.3-0.4 t/ha of root crops.

In case of early spring and poor soil warming, sowing can be started 5-7 days later than the beginning of sowing of early spring cereal crops.

For normal subsequent mechanized care of sowing, especially pre-sowing loosening and thinning, it is necessary to sow in each individual field no more than one and a half to two days.

Sowing methods

Sowing of sugar beets is carried out by shuttle method.

For sowing, combined and punctuated beet seeders are used, such as ССТ-12А, ССТ-12Б and СУПК-12, which allow simultaneously with sowing fertilizer is introduced into the rows. Row spacing for the main areas of the beet-sowing is 45 cm, in terms of irrigation and sufficient moisture on sod-podzolic soils – 60-70 cm. In the latter case, for seeding ССТ-8А planters are used.

In areas of excessive moisture, such as in the north-west of the Non-Black Soil Zone and the Baltic countries, the ridge method of sowing with a row spacing of 60 cm is used.

Seeding rates

Seeding rate of sugar beet determines the density of plants and manual labor costs. According to the All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute, the best results were obtained with a seeding rate of 13-14 globules per 1 m.

According to the results of All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute experiments, with a density of 92 thousand/ha sugar beet yield was 36.4 tons/ha and sugar content of 19.1%, with a density of 61 thousand/ha – yield 36.9 tons/ha and sugar content of 18.3%. Thus, with the same yield, denser crops give a higher sugar yield.

When sowing in small norms it is necessary to take into account the following: laboratory germination, weed infestation and pest infestation of the area, the availability of the enterprise workforce.

Table. Efficiency of sugar beet sowing in small rates (All-Union Research Institute of Sugar Beet)

Seed rate per 1 m
Sowing density, thousand pcs/ha
Roots yield, t/ha
Sugar content, %
Sugar harvest, t/ha
Costs of manual labor for checking, man-hours/hectare
Manual labor costs for weeding, man-hours/ha
Manually checking plants and weeding
Single-seeded - 16-17
Multi-seeded (polished) - 13-14
Single-seeded (coated) - 13-14
No manual labor required
Single-seeded - 16-17
Multi-seeded (polished) - 13-14
Single-seeded (coated) - 13-14

When cultivating sugar beets on industrial (intensive) technology with laboratory germination of seeds less than 85% sowing is carried out at a rate of 12-15 seed pods per 1 m row, or 6-8 kg / ha, thus providing the appearance of 8-10 seedlings. On clean fields and effective protection of seedlings from pests and diseases norm reduce to 9-10 globules per 1 m row, or 4.5-6 kg/ha, getting 6-7 sprouts beet. Thus sowing is carried out on the final density of plants.

When growing in conventional technology on weedy fields without the use of herbicides optimum seeding rate is 25-38 globules per 1 m, or 10-12 kg/ha. With proper farming, this seeding rate ensures appearance of 20-22 seedlings per 1 m of row. On clean fields, it is enough to sow 23-25 globules per 1 m, which provides appearance of 12-14 sprouts per 1 m of row with the possibility of mechanized thinning.

In the USA and Western Europe, seeding rate is 3.5-4.5 kg/ha. In Germany, precision planters А-697 are used with a 45 cm row spacing. Seeds are placed in a row at intervals of 13.5 cm. Consumption of single-seeded beet seeds is 1.9 kg/ha at a density of 80-110 thousand plants per 1 hectare.

For seeding the coated seeds seeders are retrofitted with special devices СТЯ-45.000.

Sowing depth

Sugar beet seeds have a small supply of nutrients and during germination bring the seedpods to the soil surface, so they do not tolerate deep embedding.

The sowing depth is 3-3.5 cm when the soil is sufficiently moist, 4-5 cm in dry spring conditions and on light soils. Sowing should be carried out in a moist soil layer. On heavy soils, the depth may be reduced to 2.5-3 cm.

The speed of units during sowing is not more than 4-5 km/h. If the speed is increased, especially at lower seeding rates, the uniformity of seed distribution in the row and depth is disturbed.

The rows must be straight. The deviation of the row spacing should not be more than ±10 mm.

Crop care

Crop care
The care of sugar beet crops includes:

  • rolling;
  • pre-emergence complete loosening of the soil;
  • the first shallow loosening of the soil between the rows and in the area of the rows (balling);
  • total loosening after the appearance of full sprouts;
  • formation of the density of the plants;
  • inter-row loosening of the soil with covering of weeds with soil in the row, if necessary, combined with fertilizing;
  • protecting plants from pests and diseases.


Rolling of the field is carried out after water-filled (СКГ2-1, СКГ2) or ring-toothed (ККН-2,8) rollers. It is better to combine the reception with sowing, for this purpose the seeders are aggregated by rollers. If the soil sticks to the rollers, re-consolidation is carried out after a few hours when the topsoil dries out. Rolling allows to better distribute the seeds over depth, to crush large soil clods, to restore capillarity of the top soil layer for faster swelling and uniform germination of seeds.

According to the research of Veselo-Podolyanskaya experimental selection station of the All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute, post-sowing soil rolling increases the yield of root crops by 7.6% (up to 38.0 t/ha) and sugar harvest by 9.3% (up to 7.1 t/ha).

In dry weather and rapid drying of the soil surface, the crops should be rolled again. However, in years with a lot of precipitation in the spring, rolling is not carried out because of the strong compaction of the top layer, hindering the emergence of seedlings.

Continuous loosening before sprouting

Complete loosening before sprouting of sugar beet is carried out in 4-5 days from the beginning of sowing, when the seeds are only nibbling and weed seedlings are in the phase of “white thread” in the surface layer of soil.

In case it rains after sowing and there is a risk of soil crusting, loosening begins immediately after rain, as soon as the soil stops sticking to the working tools.

In the case of a cool, long spring, when seed germination is delayed, 2 to 3 pre-emergence loosening should be carried out. Loosening is not allowed after the seedlings reach 1 cm in length. Continuous loosening before sprouting is carried out to a depth of no more than 2/3 of the sowing depth. Displacement of seeds from the sowing bed is not allowed.

For continuous loosening before sprouting, cultivators УСМК-5.4А and УСМК-5.4Б equipped with rotary working bodies or with rotors additionally are used. Movement direction of the units is along the rows along the sight aligned with the furrow left by the planter tracker. Speed of movement – not more than 8 km/h.

In the fields where the rate of seeding was carried out with a seeding rate of more than 14 balls per 1 m row, pre-emergence loosening is carried out with tooth harrows, assembled in broad-bearing units: on consolidated crops – medium type ЗБЗСС-1,0 or seeding type ЗБП-0,6А; on loose crops – harrow ЗОР-0,7. Sometimes it is recommended to carry out harrowing in aggregate with light chain plumes or light reticulate harrows for flattening the soil surface after the harrows. Tillage direction is across the crop at no more than 7 km/h. The harrow movement should be smooth, without oscillation in the transverse plane.

First shallow loosening of soil between the rows (balling)

The first shallow loosening of soil between the rows, or balling, is carried out after marking rows by cultivators УСМК-5,4А and УСМК-5,4Б, which are equipped with protective discs, unilateral flat-cutting razors with a working width of 150 mm and rotary batteries. If the expected density of seedlings is more than 10 per 1 m of the row, rotary batteries are also installed in the protection zones.

Balling allows you to loosen the soil between the rows to a depth of 3-5 cm, in the row – to 2.5 cm destroy weeds in the rows and achieve a fine crumbling of the soil. In this method the protective zones on each side of the row are 6-8 cm. The quality of the first fine loosening is estimated by the number of clods larger than 20 mm and the number of buried, sprinkled and damaged sugar beet plants, which should not be more than 10%.

Continuous loosening of the soil after sprouting

The continuous loosening of the soil after sugar beet sprouting is performed according to the recommendations of the All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute when the density exceeds 8 plants per 1 m of the row to control weeds and soil crust in the protective zones of rows in the phase of well developed fork – first pair of true leaves.

The quality of the technique is assessed by the number of damaged beet plants, which should not be more than 20%, and covered with soil – not more than 8%.

The continuous loosening is carried out by the same cultivators with rotary working bodies or ЗОР-0,7 harrows or ЗБП-0,6А type seed harrows. Cultivators movement direction – along the rows at a speed of no more than 8 km/h. Machines with harrows should move at an angle of 5-10° to the direction of the rows at speeds not exceeding 4 km/h. In case of too loose a surface layer, preliminary consolidation by smooth rollers СКГ-2 to reduce covering of plants and stabilization of uniformity of working tools depth.

Thanks to pre- and post-emergent harrowing of crops it is possible to reduce the weed infestation of sugar beet crops by 90%.

Formation of plant stand density

The density of plants in the crops affects the growth and sugar content of sugar beet.

According to research findings of various research institutions, the highest productivity in the zone of sufficient moisture is achieved when the density by the time of harvesting 95-100 thousand/ha, in the zone of unstable moisture – 85-90 thousand/ha, in the zone of insufficient moisture – 80-85 thousand/ha evenly placed plants in rows.

The formation of the density of plants should be carried out in an optimal and short time. Formation begins the earlier the greater the density of seedlings and higher weed infestation. According to L’gov Experimental Selective Station, one day of delay in the beginning of these works leads to a decrease in beet yield by 0.5-0.6 t/ha.

Prolonged standing of dense seedlings due to lack of light leads to abnormal development of leaves, elongation of petioles; leaf plates become pale. Delayed removal of unnecessary plants leads to “wailing” of the roots, i.e. its deformation due to the growth of tissues poor in sugar, and a strong reduction in sugar content.

Timing of work:

  • when the density of seedlings over 20 per 1 m formation of density of standing begins in the phase of a developed fork – first pair of true leaves and spend 8-10 days;
  • when the density of 15-20 seedlings per 1 m – in the phase of the first pair of true leaves and complete 10-12 days;
  • when the density of 10-15 seedlings – in the phase of two or three pairs of leaves and finish in 12-15 days;
  • when the density of 10 seedlings per 1 m are limited to weeding and check after thinning along the rows.

Beet cultivators, longitudinal thinners, and harrows are used to form the density of standings. If the density of seedlings is more than 20 per 1 m, the method of forming and killing weeds by bunching with beet cultivators is used. For transverse thinning a cultivator is equipped with razor blades, which are set at a depth of 2-3 cm.

The bunching schemes are determined depending on the density of sprouts, uniformity and weediness of the crops. In case of uniform sprouts with a density of 18-20 plants per 1 m and in fields where later cross processing is planned, bunching is carried out with a cutout of 27 cm and a bunch length of 18 cm. When the density of shoots is more than 25 plants per 1 m, the bunch width is reduced to 15 cm, and the notch is increased to 30 cm. Such a scheme allows the working bodies of the cultivator to loosen 56-67% of the field area at the time of bunching and cut 49.3 thousand/ha of nests. After manual disassembly, 2-3 plants per nest are left, thus achieving a standing density of 95-100 thousand plants/ha.

On weedy fields and with uneven sprouts, the width of the bunch increases: a cutout is made 30 cm, a bunch – 25 cm or a cutout – 35 cm, a bunch – 35 cm. Such a scheme allows to carry out repeated cross-cultivation, thus cutting 32-37 thousand/ha of nests. In these schemes of bunching there is an opportunity for cross-cropping against weeds.

In 1-2 days after bunching, disassembly, i.e. removal of unnecessary plants, is carried out.

On clean fields with uniform sprouting of sugar beets, where there is no need for cross-treatment, bunching schemes are used:

  • 8.5 cm cutout, 9.5 cm bunch or 12.5 cm;
  • 10 cm cutout, 15 cm bunch;
  • 10 cm cutout with leaving only one plant in the bunch during disassembly.

When single-seeded beets are sown punctuated with these bunching schemes, there is no need for manual disassembly.

At crops with 60 cm row spacing use the scheme: a cut of 35-40 cm, bunch length of 20-25 cm, each bunch leaves 2-4 plants, thus providing the density of standing plants 75-80 thousand/ha.

To form the density of standing low-weeded uniform crops are also used longitudinal thinners, such as mechanical УСМП-5,4 or automatic ПСА-2,7. Optimal time of thinning is 2 pairs of true leaves. For quality work of automatic thinners height of weeds and the size of clumps should be no more than 20 mm, unevenness of the soil in the passage of copying rollers – no more than 30 mm, the density of seedlings should be 8-12 plants per 1 m row. Adjustment of the cut and bunch length is made by completing the head with a different number of knives.

At a very loose and non-leveled topsoil layer, before the beginning of the thinning machine work the soil is rolled with a smooth roller СКГ-2 in order to stabilize a uniform depth of knives stroke, reduce thinning and prevent covering of plants with soil. The direction of movement of the unit with rollers – along the rows.

When growing beets for industrial technology formation of density of standing perform longitudinal thinners or cultivators УСМК-5,4А and УСМК-5,4Б on the scheme of cross bouquet: cut-out do 8.5 cm, bunch – 14 cm or cut-out – 8.5 cm, bunch – 9.5 cm. Movement speed of mechanical thinners and cultivators – no more than 6 km/h, automatic – 2.5-5.4 km/h, the depth of working tools – no more than 3 cm. The formation of standing density should be completed before the appearance of the 4th pair of true leaves. With any method of mechanized thinning it is necessary to ensure that 5-6 plants per 1 m of row.

In practice, longitudinal thinning is often combined with bunching, carried out before or after to reduce manual labor costs by 20-25%.

An effective way to increase labor productivity in the formation of plant density is harrowing of seedlings, which is carried out before bunching in the phase of the first pair of true leaves or by bunches. On punctuated crops harrowing before the shoots, bunching and harrowing on bunches allow to achieve a specified number of plants evenly placed in the row.

The standing density of single-seeded sugar beets can be formed by harrowing. The first harrowing on sprouts is done at an angle of 90° to the rows, the second and third – diagonally. Cutting the density of crops 25-30 seedlings per 1 m by threefold harrowing allows to achieve standing density of 80-100 thousand/ha of plants.

The punctuated crops of single-seeded beets are thinned in the phase of the mature fork by continuous loosening of rows with a mesh harrow-shredder or longitudinal thinners УСМП-5,4, ПСА-5,4 or ПСА-2,7. If necessary, repeat harrowing in 4-5 days by the same unit at an angle of 30-45° to the rows. After harrowing, check the plants in the rows and manually remove the remaining weeds.

Harrowing along the shoots is effective in the absence of soil crust, otherwise this method can give negative results, as the soil in the rows and protective zones is shifted by “tiles” and damages the plants.

Mechanized row spacing loosening

Mechanized loosening of row spacing is aimed at destroying weeds and maintaining the top soil layer in a loose condition. The depth of loosening is determined by the moisture reserves in the soil, the thickness of the mulch layer and the quality of weed cutting.

The first inter-row loosening is carried out immediately after thinning to a depth of 6-8 cm, the subsequent ones to a depth of 8-10 cm. In dry weather, loosening should be carried out to a depth of no more than 8 cm.

The number of longitudinal and transverse inter-row loosening during the growing season depends on soil and weather conditions. In the main beet-growing regions of Ukraine and Russia on chernozems, usually perform 3-4 longitudinal and 1-2 transverse loosening. On heavy soils prone to swamping, to keep the top layer in a loose state, the number of longitudinal loosening reaches 4-5, transverse – 2-3.

When inter-row loosening on each section of the cultivator working bodies (УСМК-5,4А, УСМК-5,4Б) are installed two 150 mm wide razors, one lancet flat-cut tine and rotary battery, which is fastened in front of the cultivator tines. In this way it is less blocked by the clumps formed by the tines and slightly damages the seedlings. Effective at the first treatments are protective discs (СМЕ-09.140) set in two per row, which reduces the protective zone to 6-7 cm, increases treatment speed by half, increases the proportion of weeds destroyed and reduces covering of plants with soil.

When the plants are more developed, during the following inter-row tillage the protection zone is increased up to 12 cm and the razor with 85 mm working width is set. For better cutting of the soil in the inter-row area, rotary batteries are installed behind the razors. With the appearance of 3-4 pairs of true leaves in beets protective discs can be covered weeds in rows of soil.

During the second and third inter-row cultivation working tools can be moldboard or hillers, which cover the sprouts of weeds in the rows.

With the loosening of inter-row cultivation it is advisable to carry out fertilization. With each section of the working tools installed under the feeding knife and two razors with a grip of 85 and 150 mm. The inter-row can also be treated with a feeding knife and 1-2 chisels. Rotary batteries are installed behind these working tools, covering the tracks of chisels and knives, loosening and leveling the soil of the inter-row. Rotary batteries are used when loosening the row spacing until the beet tops are closed.

All tractors are equipped with a haulm diverter in order not to damage the leaves.

Loosening of row-spacing is also carried out in the second half of summer (August), after the opening of the rows (preharvest loosening) to a depth of 8-10 cm. Reception is desirable to carry out before rainfall. According to experimental data, loosening the row-spacing after opening the rows before precipitation improves the living conditions of plants, allows you to get a root crop of up to 3-4 t/ha, improves the work of beet harvesters.


For sugar beets, a distinction is made between technical ripeness of roots and full (biological) ripeness of seeds.

Technical ripeness occurs when the light light cell juice, opening beet rows, pale (to light green) color of the leaves, the lower leaves turn yellow, weight gain and root sugar content decreases. However, beets are often harvested before reaching the highest sugar content by the time the sugar factories start operating, which is at the end of August or beginning of September. In the main beet-growing areas sugar beet harvesting begins in the first ten days of September, when the increase in the mass of roots and sugar accumulation continues.

Experimental data show that when harvested in the second half of September sugar beet mass increase at an average yield of 25-26 t/ha is about 2.0-2.2 tons, the collection of sugar is increased by 0.2 t/ha. Therefore, to use these reserves, it is advisable to determine the area planned for harvesting until September 15, so that only the uninterrupted operation of sugar factories would be ensured.

For 2-3 weeks before the beginning of sugar beet harvesting to reduce traction resistance of harvesting machines and reduce the pollution of roots with soil, preharvest loosening of row spacing to a depth of 10-12 cm is carried out.

Harvesting works are planned taking into account disease and pest infestation and remoteness of areas to be harvested in the first place. The duration of harvesting is recommended not more than 25-30 days and ends no later than October 15-20 before frosts.

Sugar beets are harvested in two phases on non-irrigated lands using 6-row trailed topper machines БМ-6, БМ-6А and self-propelled root harvesters КС-6, КС-6Б or РКС-6. Four-row БМ-4 and РКС-4 are used on irrigated plots. For convenient exit the beets begin to be harvested from the turning strips, the width of which is usually taken 21.6 m, ie, corresponding to four passes twelve-row seeder.

Each turn lane begins to be harvested in the middle, shifting to the edges. After harvesting sugar beets from the rotary strips, the field is divided into paddocks of 156 rows wide for three-row machines and 300 rows wide for six-row machines.

Harvesting of sugar beets can be carried out by flow, flow-transfer or reloading methods.

The flow method is considered one of the most progressive with minimal manual labor, but requires the full provision of transport and the implementation of the schedule of vehicles. The greatest economic return of the flow method is achieved when transporting beets to a distance of up to 12-15 km. The beets, harvested and cleaned by the combine, are loaded by this method into a nearby truck and transported directly to the sugar factory reception station. In this way, the roots arrive for processing unsoiled and are better stored in the factory’s pots.

The flow-transfer method is used when there is a lack of transport for the transportation of roots, their high contamination, which in wet weather and on dry heavy soils can reach 8-9%. The method involves in addition to removal of beets from the combine on the beet stations, partial accumulation of beets in piles on the edge of the field height 0,8-1,4 m, width 1,9-2,0 m (for loaders СНТ-2,1Б) or width of 3,5-4,0 m (loader СПС-4,2) of any length. Later, the sugar beet, piled in piles, is transported to sugar factories. The flow-transfer method reduces the need for road transport by 50-65% compared with the flow method.

The reloading method of harvesting involves initially stacking the beets in temporary piles at the edge of the field, then transporting the beets to the sugar factory. When stored in the field in September, the piles are covered with a layer of soil 15-20 cm bart-coverer hinged БН-100А. It is not recommended to harvest early harvested sugar beets in this way, and it is better to take them directly to the factory. Sugar beets harvested in October in wet weather can be stored in open piles.

Field bundling is a forced measure due to the lack of vehicles. The main objective is to reduce the loss of mass of roots while maintaining quality. Costs associated with the piling and covering of piles with earth are fully reimbursed.

The disadvantage of the reloading method is the double loading and unloading of beets. However, in conditions of high humidity and dry heavy soils it is better to harvest beets by this method, as the contamination of roots is significantly reduced.

Simultaneously with harvesting, the sugar beet leaves are silage.

Due to the fact that sugar factories do not carry out additional cleaning of the beets from the soil and residual leaves, there are additional losses of sugar during production.

Agrotechnics of sugar beet growing for seed

Mother beets are roots that are grown in the first year and put in storage to produce seeds in the second year.

Planted, or seed beet crops, are roots that were overwintered and planted in the soil in the second year.

Cultivation of mother beets

The basic techniques of agrotechnics of cultivation of mother beetroots sugar beets are similar to the culture of factory beets. However, the main task is to preserve and improve the productive properties of the propagated variety.

Crop rotation and site selection for planting mother beets

Mother beet in the rotation is placed on the best predecessors on the most fertile plots clean of weeds and pests and diseases. Mother beet is placed as far away as possible from the plantings and last year’s beetroots to prevent the spread of diseases and pests. For the same reason, mother beets are not placed after factory beets and plantings.

Plots located in lowlands, saucers, with the close occurrence of groundwater from the soil surface are unsuitable for the cultivation of mother beet, as in such plots the beet is affected by Dorcadion and tail rot. When selecting plots, it is preferable to choose the least distant from the place of autumn and winter storage.

The best predecessors of mother beet in the rotation:

  • in the zone of sufficient moisture – winter wheat, going on perennial grasses of the 1st year of use;
  • in zones of unstable and insufficient moisture – winter crops on bare fallow;
  • in conditions of irrigation – winter wheat following alfalfa of the 2nd year of use or after annual grasses.

Tillage, seeding and care of crops

Soil treatment for mother beet is similar to that for factory beet.

Sowing is carried out at the optimum time with a row spacing of 45 cm, in the conditions of irrigation – 60 cm. Seed rates are similar to the factory seeding. For sowing, it is recommended to use seeds obtained in scientific institutions and multiplied in seed farms. Sowing begins when the soil warms up at the seed embedment depth of 8-10 ° C.

In the southern regions of beet planting, such as Central Asia and Kuban, plants sown in spring usually lose most of their leaves before the usual harvesting time, halting growth and reducing the sugar content of root crops. These root crops are poorly stored in winter, so use the summer (June) sowing of mother beet, which can fully preserve the tops and produce roots of small weight (about 200 g). These roots are better stored until spring and have a high seed productivity. Experience has shown that summer crops increase seed yields by 10%, with less labor. The fine-cell structure characteristic of summer sowing beets has a positive effect on the physiological functions of the plant organism, improved nutritional conditions and water regime of plants due to less water evaporation and economical water consumption.

Beets sown in summer are more viable and suffer less from diseases, pests, and adverse weather conditions. Summer sowing improves the quality of planted roots: seed size, fractional composition, germination.

Agrotechnics of summer sowing (late June – early July) should be aimed at providing optimal conditions for increasing field germination of seeds, getting full, uniform and strong shoots. Therefore, during summer sowing techniques of accumulation and preservation of moisture in the soil are especially important. Plots for mother sowing include organic and mineral fertilizers and timely plowing to a depth of 32-35 cm. From early spring to sowing the soil is maintained in a loose, clean condition from weeds.

The culture of mother beet differs from the factory more dense plants:

  • in areas of sufficient moisture – 160-180 thousand/ha of plants;
  • in areas of unstable moisture – 140-160 thousand plants/ha;
  • in places of insufficient moisture – 120-140 thousand plants/ha.

Such density of plants allows to receive roots of 250-375 grams on the average, and minimum – 100-150 grams.

The most uniform placement of mother beet seeds allows a punctuated method of sowing. The scheme of plant placement is 45×10 cm.


Too early harvesting of mother beets prolongs the storage period, the beets get wilted, grow strongly and rot easily. First of all, the moisture of the head and the tail part of the roots, where the vascular-fiber bundles are located, is lost. Early harvesting leads to an increase in the proportion of “stubborn” (root crops that do not give flower stalks in the second year of the growing season).

Delaying the harvesting of mother beets carries the risk of frost damage.

The optimal time for harvesting mother beets is when the average daily temperature drops to 5-8 °C, but no frost is present. The intensity of respiration of dug root crops slows down during this period, the activity of microorganisms that cause rot during storage also decreases, and there are fewer conditions for temperature increase in piles. For the Altai this term is October 5, the Central Black Earth zone – October 15, the Krasnodar Territory – November 1.

Harvesting of mother beet is carried out by combine КСТ-ЗА with knives removed and additionally equipped with transporters that feed the beets with leaves to the next moving transport. The dug up roots are cleaned from the ground (V.V. Kolomeychenko – “no need”), the leaves are cut by a knife to a cone without damaging the buds. Root harvesting machines КС-6 and РКС-6 can also be used for harvesting.

Mechanized harvesting of mother beets is also possible, with leaving petioles 3-4 cm (A.V. Dobrotvortseva). Root crops with petioles of this length, which are harvested and stored in stable cold weather, are stored in the same way as peeled on the cone, without petioles, the seed productivity is not reduced.

Storage of mother beets

For winter storage of mother beets use earthen trenches, which are dug 20-30 days before harvesting trencher ТКУ-0,9. The depth of the trench – 60-70 cm, width – 80-100 cm, the length – any. Every 20 m of the trench, earth cofferdams 20-25 cm wide are made. Trenches are located in parallel rows at a distance of 18-20 m between them for the convenience of machines in their covering and opening. Also for the convenience of laying and excavation of roots trenches make a rectilinear, and the walls – vertical.

Beets are placed in piles in bulk, trying to damage them as little as possible. Fill the trench 5-7 cm below the soil surface and immediately cover with a layer of soil 30-40 cm. With the onset of frost, the thickness of soil is increased. The total thickness of the cover in the North Caucasus is 50-70 cm, in Ukraine – 70-80 cm, in the Central Black Earth Zone, Central regions and Altai Territory – up to 150 cm. The optimal storage temperature for planting root crops is 3-4 °C (+1-3 °C[6]V.V. Kolomeychenko. Plant breeding/textbook. – Moscow: Agrobiznesentr, 2007. – 600 с. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6. Page. 387.).

Mother beet in winter can also be stored in special storages or cellars.

In spring, the piles are opened, the mother beetroots are immediately sorted. For this purpose, one section of the trench 1-2 m long is released and healthy selected roots are shifted into it. Upon completion, they are covered with a layer of soil 10-15 cm. Multitailed roots are discarded, as multitailedness complicates planting of roots, and cutting such tails reduces seed productivity. A retrofitted ТКУ-0.9A trencher is used to remove root crops from the trench.

Mechanized lines, such as МСК-15, can be used to prepare for planting of roots.

The best quality of planting by machine method is achieved with cone-shaped and 5-10 cm in diameter of the root.

Cultivation of the plantings

Place in the crop rotation

The yield of sugar beet seeds directly depends on soil fertility and, above all, the water regime, as the bulk of the root of seedlings is located in the soil layer 0-60 cm and they can not use moisture and nutrients of deeper layers, making do only with the fertility of the upper layer. Therefore, seedlings are placed only after the best predecessors.

It is optimal to place plantings after perennial grasses or one year after them, winter cereals going on fertilized fallow, as well as leguminous crops and annual leguminous grasses. In a zone of unstable moisture it is better to place seeds on a bare fallow.


Under modern sugar beet growing agronomy make 20-25 t/ha of manure (or 30-40 t/ha under the predecessor) and 300-330 kg/ha a.s. of mineral fertilizers for seeds under planting.

In autumn, plowing to a depth of 32-35 cm is carried out.

In spring make early moisture closure, for which perform harrowing in combination with leveling. Before planting, deep cultivation at a depth of 16-18 cm with simultaneous harrowing, which creates good conditions for planting, soil warming, aeration and survival of seedlings.

After removal of roots from piles, they are immediately planted, as leaving them in the open air leads to loss of weight and increases the proportion of “stubborn”.

Planting is carried out by machines such as ВПУ-4 or ВПС-2,8 on the scheme 70×70 cm, 70×60 cm or 70×35 cm, planting density – 20.4 thousand/ha roots. To protect the heads of roots from drying out and frost, they should be planted 2-3 cm below the soil surface. Following the planting machines it is recommended to carry out rolling with chopping rollers.

In experiments A.V. Dobrotvortseva showed the effect of the duration of the sugar beet on seed yield: with immediate planting of root crops was obtained seed yield per plant – 121 g, with a duration of 2 hours – 112 g (93%), with a duration of 6 hours – 99 g (82%), with a duration of 10 hours – 91 g (75%).

The distance between seed plots of different varieties should be at least 1 km.

At early planting, seedlings start to grow in conditions of low temperatures and sufficient soil moisture, which positively affects the growth of the root system and assimilating apparatus. Late planting leads to an increase in the number of “stubborn” plants.

The best time for planting is the first week of field work, when sowing of early cereal crops is carried out. After planting, the plantation is compacted with smooth rollers.

Planting care

When 20-30% of seedlings appear, harrowing is carried out, the second harrowing – 4-5 days after the first one.

During the vegetation of seed plants at least three treatments between the rows are carried out, combining them with top dressing. Fertilizing is carried out in the phase of forming the rosette of leaves and the beginning of throwing flower stalks. Top dressing with 50-120 kg/ha of ammonium nitrate, 100-150 kg/ha of superphosphate and 40-80 kg/ha of potassium chloride, or putting N20-30P20 between the rows to a depth of at least 12 cm are used.

To control weeds on sugar beet plantings use herbicides Eptham at a rate of 4 kg/ha and Tillam at 3-4 kg/ha. The treatment is carried out by boom sprayers. According to long-term observations of the All-Russian Sugar Beet Research Institute, the use of these herbicides reduces the infestation of monocotyledonous weeds by 70-80%.

Also when caring for sugar beet seeds, pruning, pinching, additional pollination and improving selections are carried out. Pruning is cutting the heads of shoots by 10-12 cm, it is carried out during the mass stemming of seed plants with a pronounced main stem. Pinching is pruning the stems by 2-4 cm, carried out at the beginning of flowering or when 60% of plants are in mass flowering. Pruning and pinching result in stopping the growth of stem tips, which has a positive effect on yields and seed quality.

The All-Russian Research Institute of Sugar Beet has developed a chemical method of pinching of seedlings using maleic acid hydrazide. The preparation suspends the growth of young shoots; as a result, the inflow of nutrients to the seeds increases, and their yield increases by 0.3-0.4 t/ha. Chemical pinching is carried out by aerial spraying at the end of mass flowering at a rate of 100 g/ha a.s.

Numerous experiments demonstrate high efficiency of additional pollinations: after one additional pollination, the increase of seed yield was 0.12 t/ha, twice – 0.15 t/ha, four times – 0.3-0.4 t/ha. Supplementary pollination is carried out after dew decay, using a 4-5 m long rope with pieces of burlap attached to it, 20-25 cm long and 10-12 cm wide. The rope is stretched over the seed plants and passed between the rows so that the burlap touches the tops of the stems. On large areas, additional pollination can be carried out with the help of aircraft.

Sugar beet seed plants in a plantation can vary greatly in seed bush shape, early maturity, and productivity. Early-ripening biotypes tend to shed their globules prematurely, and late-ripening ones produce seeds of poor quality. To prevent pollination of well developed seed plants by pollen of these biotypes, they are removed. Such improving selections increase the germination of seeds by 6-10% and increase the yield of condition seeds by 0,1-0,3 t/ha (A.I. Fedorov, G.P. Snegur, V.N. Balan). Especially important are improving selections when growing seeds of elite varieties. Selections should be carried out before the beginning of flowering of seed plants.


Ripening of globules on one plant occurs unevenly, so harvesting is started when 30-50% of globules have turned brown (seeds have a powdery break by this time). It is especially important to determine the right harvesting time for polyploid seed plants, which mature later than diploid ones, and early harvesting leads to a deterioration of their seeding qualities.

Manual harvesting involves cutting and stacking in loose sheaves of seed plants, which are placed in piles of 4-5 pieces for drying. Threshing is carried out by combine harvesters.

Seed plants are threshed by reapers ЖУС-4,2, ЖРБ-4,2, ЖРБ-4,2П or by a self-propelled mower Е-301 (Germany). The cut stalks are placed in a swath for drying the weight and maturation of the seeds. Then swaths are picked up and threshed by combine harvesters, the seeds are sent to the current for cleaning, for which use machines ОВП-20А and sugar-beet hill ОСГ-0,5. The humidity of the seeds before storing should not be more than 15%.

Harvesting by direct harvester is possible with the use of desiccants, which is carried out when 30-40% of the globules turn brown. The treatment is carried out by boom sprayers or by aircraft. Desiccation allows for 3-4 days to accelerate seed ripening and increase their sowing and yielding properties.

Non-planting method of sugar beet seed cultivation

The All-Union Sugar Beet Research Institute proposed a non-planting method of sugar beet seed cultivation, which proved to be good in areas with mild winters or stable snow cover. This method is used in Krasnodar Krai and the North Caucasus, and is also considered promising in Kyrgyzstan, Transcaucasia, Moldavia, southern Ukraine and the Baltics. It is widely used in Western Europe.

An important condition for the effectiveness of non-planting method of seed growing is the use of a set of agronomic practices aimed at increasing the winter-hardiness of beet roots. The best winter-hardy beet roots are characterized by xerophytic small-cell structure, with a developed conductive tissue (vascular-fiber bundles). Therefore, the agrotechnics of non-planting method of seed growing is based on the provision of strict growing conditions of mother plants: increased density of standing, moderate moisture and nutrition of plants, late sowing terms to reduce the size of roots that remain in the field for winter.

Sowing is carried out in July or the first decade of August, the width of inter-row width of 70 or 90 cm. In this case, the breakthrough and deep loosening of the crops is not carried out.

Plot when placing mother beet crops are selected so that the winter and spring on the fields did not stagnate water, groundwater is located at least 1 m from the soil surface. By granulometric composition, loamy or sandy loam soils with high organic matter content and good water permeability are preferred.

Early harvested crops such as peas, winter rape, winter barley, winter rye, and wheat can serve as predecessors for mother beet crops. Sufficient precipitation or irrigation should be applied after harvesting the preceding crop.

In some areas spring under-cover planting of mother beet may be used. This method provides the best conditions for full sprouts. Chickpeas, peas, corn for green fodder and silage, white mustard, buckwheat, flax, rape, vetch, spring barley and other early harvested crops may be used as cover crops. Seeding rate of the cover crop is reduced by 20%, and then the beets are sown crosswise with a row spacing of 70 cm.

During the whole vegetation period of the first year the field should be kept clean from weeds. For this purpose, regular shallow loosening is carried out, starting from the moment of sprouts emergence. In the case of growing beets under the cover of another crop, after harvesting the cover crop immediately carry out treatment of the inter-row field and apply fertilizers, especially phosphorus-potassium.

Care techniques for non-planting beet crops are: cover (hilling) plants before the winter in a layer of 10-15 cm in the Krasnodar Territory or 20-25 cm in the more northern regions. The technique is carried out at a soil temperature at a rooting depth of 5-6 °C. Plough ПЛН-5-35 with two bodies is used for hilling. The upper part of the leaves are left open to allow air access. Before the beets go to winter, plowing the plot is carried out, and bait traps against rodents are placed along the field and its boundaries.

Early in spring, beets are removed from earthen shelters by harrows with upside-down tines in one or two tracks in the direction of 90° to the rows or diagonally. After that, check the degree of opening of plants from the ground, if necessary, correct them manually.

Spring thinnings of plants are carried out if it is possible to achieve a uniform placement of 150-200 thousand plants per 1 hectare. According to the Frunzensky experimental field, seed yield without thinning at a density of 550 thousand plants was 2.9 t/ha, when thinning and a density of 250 thousand – 3.0 t/ha, when thinning at a distance of 10 cm and a density of 180 thousand – 3.2 t/ha.

The number of loosening between the rows is determined based on the condition of the soil and the presence of weeds. The phase of stemming in non-planted seed plants comes very quickly, so the first loosening is carried out no later than 7 days after the opening of plants at a depth of 10-14 cm. The depth of subsequent loosening is 7-8 cm.

Seed ripening in a non-planting method of cultivation is more uniform, lodging is lower, the position of the stems is more straight, which contributes to the possibility of mechanized harvesting.

Seed yield by non-planting method somewhat less or approximately the same as the traditional farming techniques, but the cost of their production is significantly lower due to the exclusion of the technology to 70 operations, and labor costs are 2-3 times less. In 1982, the seed yield of 2.0 t/ha from an area of 70 hectares was harvested by the non-planting method in Kili district of Odessa region (collective farm “Druzhba”, Ukraine), in Alamedinsky district (Lenin collective farm, Kyrgyzstan) – 1.5 t/ha from an area of 510 hectares.

Agrotechnics of cultivation under irrigated conditions

During the USSR period, sugar beet was cultivated in many regions under irrigated agriculture conditions: Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, some arid regions of the RSFSR (Volga region, North Caucasus, Altai Krai). In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan over 80% of sugar beet crops were irrigated, in the RSFSR and Ukraine – 12%. Small irrigated areas were in Georgia, Armenia and Moldova.

Sugar beet is responsive to irrigation. According to the results of experiments conducted by the Research Institute of Agriculture of the Central Black Earth Belt named after V.V. Dokuchaev, with 4-6-fold irrigation for 4 years on average 53.4 t/ha of root crops were obtained, while without irrigation – 28.5 t/ha. Yield under irrigation in Kurdai district of Jambul province (state farm named after Rosa Luxemburg, Kazakhstan, 1976) averaged 50.6 t/ha from an area of 1500 ha, maximum 75.3 and 70.9 t/ha. On the irrigated state plots of Ukraine in 1982, the yield exceeded 77.0 t/ha.

The best predecessor of sugar beet grown in irrigated conditions is winter crops following perennial grasses.

Autumn tillage when growing sugar beets under irrigation conditions includes soil disking, deep plowing for 30-32 cm and field leveling. Doses of mineral and organic fertilizers are increased during irrigation. Approximate rates of fertilizers: N120-160P130-180K110-200 and 20-30 t/ha of manure. In spring, the usual pre-sowing tillage is carried out.

Sowing under irrigation is carried out with 60 cm row spacing, as 45 cm row spacing makes it difficult to cut irrigation furrows. Seed sowing depth is not less than 2 cm and not more than 4-5 cm at usual norms. The sowing date is earlier. When sowing, N10P20 is applied to the rows.

Care of sugar beet crops consists of destruction of soil crust, formation of density of plants, inter-row loosening, which is carried out more often and deeper than on unwatered lands. After thinning, N30-40 fertilization with simultaneous cutting of irrigation furrows is carried out.

Particular attention is paid to weed control.

Autumn watering is done 5-10 days before the autumn tillage, the rate of water consumption is 1200-1500 m3/ha. Moisture watering increases the yield of roots by 20-30% on average. For uniform moistening of the soil, watering is carried out along the furrows. Sometimes, before the beginning of autumn tillage, pre-plowing watering is carried out to provoke germination of weed seeds. Water consumption during pre-plowing irrigation is 250-300 m3/ha, and the rate of consumption during the subsequent watering reduces to 1000-1200 m3/ha. If sugar beets are placed immediately after cereals, watering can be done immediately after harvesting them, after which stubble discing on 7-10 cm, fertilizer plowing on 12-14 cm and autumn plowing on 28-30 cm are done.

Soil moisture is regulated by vegetative irrigation during the growth and development of sugar beet. The optimum moisture content is at least 70-80% of the lowest moisture capacity at a depth of at least 60-80 cm. Timing, quantity and irrigation norms of vegetative irrigation are determined by local soil and climatic conditions. In the Central Black Earth zone, Volga region, Rostov region and the south of Ukraine, as a rule, 3-5 vegetative irrigations are made during the period of maximum water consumption by plants:

  • 1, more rarely, 2 irrigations during the period from sowing to leaf formation (in June);
  • 2-3 waterings – during the period of intensive growth (in July-August);
  • 1 watering – during the period of sugar accumulation (the end of August).

In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and some other regions of irrigated beet growing area the number of vegetative irrigations can reach 8, on light soils – 10.

More often the furrow irrigation method is used, through the inter-row irrigation. Before each irrigation a shallow irrigation network is cut, after irrigation when loosening the row spacing it is embedded. Norm of water consumption by furrow irrigation method is 600-900 m3/ha. Sprinkling is a more promising method due to lower water consumption, the lack of the need to create an irrigation network and preliminary leveling of the fields. Water consumption by sprinkling method is 500 m3/ha.

After irrigation, when the topsoil dries out, we conduct inter-row loosening, alternating their depth by 14-16 cm and 10-12 cm.

To accelerate physiological ripening and increase the sugar content of root crops 20-30 days before harvesting, irrigation is stopped.

Intensive cultivation technologies

In the 80’s All-Union Scientific Research Institute of sugar beet was developed and implemented the intensive technology of sugar beet cultivation, which provides a yield of root crops 35-40 t/ha with labor costs to 90-100 man-h/ha, in irrigation – up to 45 t/ha with labor costs 110 man-h/ha. For comparison, the labor inputs during cultivation by traditional agro-technology were on the average 300-350 man-hours/ha, the share of manual labor (digging, checking of plants, refining of roots) was 70-80% of manual labor.

Sugar beet is cultivated under intensive technology using single-seeded varieties (the share of single-seed seeds at least 90-95%) with high field germination (over 80-85%), resistant to blooming, pests (Dorcadion) and diseases (cercosporosis) with good technological qualities of root crops.

The intensive technology provides:

  1. placing sugar beets in the rotation on the best predecessors.
  2. The system of improved or half-fallow main tillage and the application of optimal rates of organic and mineral fertilizers.
  3. Qualitative performance of early spring and pre-sowing tillage.
  4. Sowing of single-growing seeds with high field germination to obtain a given density of shoots.
  5. Use of a comprehensive system of plant protection.
  6. Mechanized care of crops, including the formation of density of standing.
  7. Roots harvesting by the flow and flow-transfer methods, without the use of manual post-cleaning.

The technology can take into account the requirements for resource-saving through the use of modern resource-saving agricultural machinery, rational saving of material resources, especially liquid fuel.

The maximum yields in the period of the USSR using this technology were:

  • 45.9 t/ha in Kochubeyevsky district of Stavropol Krai (collective farm named after Chapaev, 1983) from an area of 1500 ha, labor inputs 128.5 man-h/ha;
  • 46.0 t/ha in Ust-Labinsk district of Krasnodar Territory (Kuban collective farm, 1983) from 460 ha, labor input of 70 man-hours/ha;
  • 40.1 t/ha in Lgovskii district, Kursk region (Lgovskii experimental breeding station, 1983) from an area of 140 ha, the average harvesting time of 100 kg was 5-6 minutes;
  • 55.5 t/ha in Zhashkovsky district of Cherkasy region (collective farm named after Suvorov, Ukraine, 1983), labor costs 79 man-h/ha.

One of the variants of intensive technology provides the use of guiding slots. Protective zones in this case are reduced to 5 cm, thus, the cultivated area between the rows increases to 80%. The 10-cm strips along the rows are almost completely covered with soil during hilling. Manual weeding is not required. Slots are usually made during pre-sowing cultivation or during sowing. Consumption of pre-sowing herbicides is reduced by a factor of 3.


V.V. Kolomeychenko. Horticulture/Textbook. – Moscow: Agrobiznesentr, 2007. – 600 с. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Horticulture/P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko. Vavilov. ed. by P.P. Vavilov, V.S. Kuznetsov et al. – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and Tutorials for Higher Education Institutions).

Fundamentals of Technology of Agricultural Production. Farming and plant growing. Under the editorship of Niklyaev V.S. – Moscow: “Bylina”, 2000. – 555 с.