USDA estimates 1.16 million acres of sugarbeets will be planted in the 2022 growing season. To help farmers produce a successful sugarbeet crop this year, experts from North Dakota State University Extension share their outlooks and tips.
Tom Peters, a sugarbeet agronomist, and Mohamed Khan, a sugarbeet specialist, encourage farmers to prepare weed-free seed beds, use an adequate seeding rate and uniformly space seed to ensure a good plant population.
When the soil warms and the snow melts, farmers will begin spreading spring fertilizer, conducting tillage, and planting small grains, sugarbeets and corn. Growers in Minnesota and North Dakota typically start planting around April 11 when their insurance coverage comes into effect; however, wet field conditions this year delayed planting.
With the urgency to get seeds into the soil, it can be tempting to skip pre-herbicides. However, waterhemp was observed in early May in 2020 and 2021. The longer-term averages for waterhemp emergence are the first half of May.
Sugarbeet growers control waterhemp by applying chloroacetamide herbicides once sugarbeets reach the two-leaf stage. There are no effective post-herbicides, so producers need to properly use soil residual herbicides, especially the chloroacetamide herbicides applied post to sugarbeets and pre to waterhemp.
The region’s delayed planting, however, complicates weed management because waterhemp and sugarbeets germinate and emerge at the same time, especially this year due to late planting. It’s recommended that farmers use one of these weed management programs:
- Ethofumesate (Nortron, Ethotron, Ethofumesate 4SC or Nektron) preplant incorporated or at preemergence at 2 to 6 pints per acre
- Dual Magnum pre at 8 to 12 fluid ounces per acre using the 24(c) local needs label in North Dakota and Minnesota
- Ethofumesate and Dual Magnum pre at 2 pints and 8 fluid ounces per acre, respectively
Disease, pest management
Several effective seed treatments can control rhizoctonia seedling damping-off. Farmers with a history of aphanomyces in their fields are advised to use Tachigaren seed treatment, and to apply and incorporate precipitated calcium carbonate to fields to manage aphanomyces damping-off and root rot.
In the northern Red River Valley and other areas where sugarbeet root maggot is an issue, growers have the option of using insecticidal seed treatments where insect population is relatively low, and at-plant insecticides where root maggot population is higher.
Growers in Minnesota and North Dakota will plant about 653,000 acres that represent roughly 56% of the total U.S. sugarbeet production.