Growing beet with KWS

March 2016

This technical newsletter, designed for the beet grower is aimed to help improve beet growing knowledge with seasonal and timely advice on all aspects of growing beet.

Seedbed and drilling date: the two key elements for successfully grown beet

The sowing season for beet will begin soon and the cornerstones of a successful season with promising yields are optimal seedbed preparation and the right drilling date. The extremely mild winter and the lack of significant frost have not helped with soil weathering and in many cases soils are still very wet.

Seedbed preparation

The most important aspects for successful emergence and good plant stand is a fine tilth and moist seedbed. Preparation starts in autumn after the harvest of the previous crop. Any kind of soil compaction and the buildup of straw mats should be avoided as it could cause fangy root growth and lead to reduced yields.

A level, loose and light fluffy seedbed with good re-consolidation is crucial to allow root growth and to guarantee the access to water and nutrients. The top layer should be a medium to coarse crumble in order to prevent evaporation and capping and to allow for improved water infiltration.

Please keep in mind that beet are particularly sensitive to soil acidity. You should generally aim at a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 in sandy loam to clay soils. If you need to lime your soil, be careful not to over-lime as this will potentially lock-up nutrients such as phosphorus, manganese, boron and magnesium.


Generally aim to drill at 2-3cm depth when soils have warmed up to at least 5°C and temperatures are continuing to rise.

Above: optimal sowing depth

Above: sowing too deep

Be very careful in areas where late frosts are likely to occur as beet is very sensitive in the early growth stages and cotyledons could be easily damaged by frosts. Exposing the beet plants to a long period of cool weather also increases the risk of bolting.

To achieve maximum dry matter yield, aim for a plant density of 85,000-95,000 plants/ha. Given a typical plant establishment around 80 % you would need a drilling rate of 120,000 seeds per hectare (48,000 seeds per acre). If you face less ideal conditions and expect a lower estimated plant establishment you might consider to increasing the seed rate in order to obtain a suitable plant stand.

To find out the number of units you need for your acreage have a look at our seed rate calculator ( or the seed rate tables below.

Seed treatment and crop protection

Insecticide seed treatments should be used to provide a form of insurance and to ensure you get the best from your beet seed. A broad spectrum Gaucho treatment will minimise risks from soil pests, such as springtails, millipedes, symphylids, pygmy beetle, wireworm, and other pests like aphids.

Beets are not very competitive in the establishment phase until canopy closure. To ensure good yields it is very important to keep the beet weed free as any weeds especially those growing taller than the beet and shading it will substantially reduce yield.


Regular soil sampling and nutrient analysis provides the best overview of the conditions your fields are in and provide a basis for your fertilisation choices. Further advice should be taken from your BASIS & FACTS qualified agronomist.

Nitrogen (N)

N requirements should be assessed based on N-min tests prior to drilling in February/March. Typical N-use is around 80-120kg/ha applied in at least two splits, to avoid damages due to too high salt concentration on the soil surface, made either just pre- or post-drilling and then before canopy closure.

Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K)

Both nutrients are of special importance during the early plant development as they will promote early growth and plant establishment.


Some micronutrients such as boron and manganese are of special importance. To ensure good levels of boron and manganese where deficiencies are likely to occur a foliar application might be taken into consideration.

  • CultiVent Feedbeet 1 - March 2016 [pdf | 0.4 MB] pdf Download