Sugar beet is a conical, white, fleshy root with a flat crown. The plant consists of the sugar beet root and a rosette of leaves. The crop has a taproot system that utilizes water and soil nutrients to depths of 5 to 8 feet. As sugar beet plants emerge, a pair of cotyledons unfolds. Successive leaves develop in pairs throughout the growing season. The life expectancy of sugar beet leaves varies from 45 to 65 days and it is temperature dependent.
How Sugar is formed in Sugar Beet
Sugar is formed through a process of photosynthesis in the leaves and it is then stored in the root. Sugar can represent between 15% and 21% of the sugar beet root’s total weight and this depends on the cultivar and growing conditions, the sugar content varies from 12% to above 20 percent.
Uses of Sugar Beet
Sugar Beets contain 12 to above 20% sucrose. Sucrose is used widely as a pure high energy food or food additive. High fiber dietary food additives are manufactured from Sugar Beet pulp and major food.
Sugar Beet tops also can be used for livestock feed. Cattle and sheep also beets left in the field after harvesting.
Molasses by products from Sugar Beet processing are used widely in the alcohol, pharmaceuticals and baker’s yeast industries.
Used to add nutrients to the soil
Waste lime from the processing of Sugar Beets is an excellent soil amendment to increase soil PH levels. Waste lime is a good source of P & K plant nutrients.
How to grow Sugar Beet
- Till the soil about two inches (5 centimeters) down and remove any rocks. Tilling is very important for the growth of Sugar Beets and it shouldn’t be more than a month before planting or the soil gets too dry.
- Plant sugar beet seeds about 1½ inches (3.8 centimeters) deep in the soil. Don’t plant them too close to each other, as the roots can get intertwined.
- Water the sugar beet plants often, as they are heavy drinkers. However, one has to be careful not to over water the sugar beet.
- Watch for sprouts to emerge from the soil. Germination always occurs approximately 15 days after planting.
- Dig up sugar beets when they measure about two inches (5 centimeters) in diameter. If the beets are allowed to grow larger, they become fibrous and lose their flavor.
Soil on which Sugar Beet is grown
Sugar Beets are well adapted to a wide range of soil types. Sugar Beets are produced on coarse textured sandy soils to high organic matter, high clay content, silty clay or silty clay loam soils. Soil free or nearly free of stones is particularly desirable. Stones cause problems for Sugar Beet planting, thinning, harvesting and processing equipment.
Sugar Beets are poor competitors with weeds from emergence until the Sugar Beet leaves shade the ground. Emerging Sugar Beets are small, lack vigor and take approximately two months to shade the ground. Lack of weed control causes severe yield losses