ISSUE #424

424 2003 Crop Planning Starts Now


Planting the 2003 crop seems like a long way off, but tillage, crop rotation and fertilizer application decisions made in August, September and October set the stage for success or failure in 2003. Take some time now to think through some of these critical decisions.

Beet Field Selection Criteria For 2003:

  • Threat of aphanomyces, rhizomania, rhizoctonia
  • Cropping sequence impacts
  • Length of crop rotation
  • Weed pressure – resistant kochia management
  • Low residue crop rotations and erosion
  • Soil profile nitrogen status
  • Herbicide carryover potential

Crop Rotation Impacts:

Model Farm data summarized from American Crystal Sugar Company shareholder records indicates producing sugarbeet with only one year instead of two between beet crops reduces revenue per acre by over $150/acre, figure 1. Cropping systems with 3 to 7 years between beet crops increase revenue per acre by $140 or more over 1 year.



Tillage Management Options:

Most shareholders use chisel plows, disks and field cultivators to prepare land in the fall prior to planting beets. However there are other options that might be considered.

Tillage and Kochia Control:

Late kochia is very bad in many 2002 beet fields already. Heavy Kochia populations will reduce crop yields; make harvesting and defoliation difficult; could increase storage losses of sugar.

Several growers moldboard plowed fields that were known to be heavily infested with kochia in the fall of 2001 that were going to be planted to beets in 2002. These fields have been essentially kochia free in 2002. Kochia seed buried several inches deep is unlikely to successfully germinate and emerge. Best chances of success occur when:

  • grain is harvested early
  • plowing and secondary tillage is done ASAP
  • fertilizer and cover crop seed is spread in early September
  • cover crop residue reduces erosion over winter and stand loss next spring

Soil Moisture Management System:

Its based on building small ridges about 6 inches high in the fall after fertilizer and primary tillage was completed. Ridges are on 22 inch centers. Just prior to planting ridges are leveled off with a deridging tool and seed placed in ideal moisture conditions for uniform and rapid emergence.

Benefits of the System Include:

  • no wheel tracks across rows in the spring
  • optimal moisture conditions for emergence
  • very uniform stands
  • ridges may reduce over winter soil erosion
  • add a fall cover crop to further control erosion


Even in recent wet cycle years growers practicing the soil moisture management system have realized more than $35 per acre increased revenue.

To Learn More:

  • See Annual Sugarbeet Research and Extension Reports 1989-1995
  • Contact Dr. Joe Giles @ North Dakota State University
  • Visit with your American Crystal Sugar Company agriculturist
  • Learn from successful neighbors doing ridge tilling