ISSUE #450

450 - Invested Research Dollars Pay Big Dividends


The Sugarbeet Research and Education Board became a reality in 1975 in Minnesota and North Dakota. The Board was organized to become the entity each of the three sugarbeet cooperatives in Minnesota and North Dakota could channel grower research check-off dollars too. The Board has seven grower members, three sugar coop management members, one experiment station and one extension representative from both NDSU and the University of Minnesota. The board had a budget of about $250,000 when first established and funded 5 or 6 projects per year. For 2004 the budget will be nearly $550,000. Funds come from grower contributions of about $.80 per acre or $.04/ton of beets produced. Over 20 projects are now funded each year involving research on nearly every aspect of sugarbeet production.

A brief summary of results of most projects funded in 2003-2004 will be given here. More details are available in the annual Sugarbeet Research Reports each grower receives. This information is also available at

USDA Long Term Research Projects

ResearchScientist Benefit to Growers 
Aphanomyces characterization and management  John Wieland  Reduced impact of Aphanomyces on profitability.
Impact of root diseases on storage losses  Larry Campbell Improve variety selection process, improve storage pile management and reduce losses. 
Respiration rates of beets as effected by root rots, etc.  Karen Klotz  Reduce impacts of raffinose and other non-sugars on sugar recovery in factories. 
Sugarbeet root maggot resistant varieties  Larry Campbell  Resistant variety development 

University of Minnesota and NDSU Projects

ResearchScientist Benefit to Growers 
N management  Larry Smith  Improved crop quality. 
Defoliation techniques  Larry Smith, Joseph Giles  Improved sample quality for tare lab, better beet storage and on-farm-profit. 
Cercospora management  Larry Smith, Mohamed Khan  Effective Cercospora control at the least cost possible. 
Rhizomania management with cultural practices.  Joseph Giles, John Lamb, Larry Smith  N, planting date, variety selection, and plant population management for maximum on-farm-profit. 
Control of soil borne fungal pathogens.  Carol Windels  Minimizing impact of Aphanomyces and Rhizoctonia seedling diseases and root rots on sugarbeet yield and quality. 
Control of the sugarbeet root maggot.  Mark Boetel, Larry Smith  Minimize yield and quality reduction with least cost control measures. Very promising new seed treatment is being tested. 
Tile drainage and sugarbeet production.  Gary Sands, Joachim Wiersma  Determine feasibility of tile drainage. 
Sand syndrome effects on sugarbeet yield.  Larry Smith, Dave Franzen, Carol Windels  Enhanced yield and quality on light textured soils. 
Wheat and corn residue management for sugarbeets.  Albert Sims  Maximize yields in different crop rotations. 
Banded (starter) P use  Albert Sims  Maintain yield and quality with $5 to $10 lower cost per acre. 
Weed control with micro-rates.  Alan Dexter  Maximize weed control at least possible cost. 
Evaluate new Roundup Ready variety event.  Alan Dexter  Be positioned to most effectively use this technology when it's available. 
Dual Magnum use.  Alan Dexter  Management practices designed to maximize weed control and minimize crop injury. 
Grower meetings, plot tours, current publications, sugarbeet institute, grower consultations.  Mohamed Khan, Larry Smith, Alan Dexter, Joseph Giles, Others  Inform and educate growers on latest advances in sugarbeet production. 
Wireworm, springtails, cutworm, lygus bug and white grub control  Mark Boetel, Ian McRae  Develop economic thresholds and least cost control methods.
N management strategies mostly for Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative.  John Lamb  Maximize crop quality and maintain yields. 
Monitor Cercospora resistance to fungicides.  Gary Secor, Neil Gudmestad  Ensure long term cost effective Cercospora control. 
Planter test stand clinics.  Joseph Giles, Norm Cattanach, Randy Nelson  Maximize stand establishment, stand uniformity and crop harvestability, reduce storage losses 
Improving crop growth with liming.  Larry Smith, Joseph Giles, Alan Dexter, Carl Bradley, Carol Windels  Reduce effects of sand syndrome, Aphanomyces, and pesticide carryover and low PH on sugarbeet yield and quality. 
Evaluation of non-traditional products.  Larry Smith, Joseph Giles, Alan Dexter  Test new products for benefits to provide product purchasing data to growers. 
Precision fertility management.  Albert Sims, Dave Franzen, Larry Smith, John Lamb, George Rehm  Evaluate zone fertility management and other precision ag practices. 
The contribution of the MN, ND, and Sidney, MT beet industries to the regions economy.  Larry Leistritz  Develop current economic impact data to support continued need for industry during trade negotiations. 
Fine tuning N management for Sidney, MT area.  Jerry Bergman, Joyce Eckhoff, Charles Flynn  Improve crop quality and maintain yield and profitability. 
Cercospora management for NW North Dakota and NE Montana.  Jerry Bergman, Barry Jacobson  Cost effective Cercospora control. 
Evaluate new Rhizomania strains and their virulence.  Charlie Rush  Maintaining effective resistant varieties for grower use. 

Beet Seed Development Foundation Projects

Research Scientist Benefit to Growers 
Raffinose Biosynthesis.  Karen Klotz  Improves sugar recoveries.
Sucrose metabolizing enzymes.  Karen Klotz  Increase variety sugar % - reduce storage losses. 
Variability in Fusarium.  Linda Hanson  Improved disease resistance. 
Cercospora resistance bioengineering.  David Kuykendahl  Better Cercospora resistance. 
Root maggot Proteinase inhibitor.  Ann Smigocki  Better root maggot control. 
PCR detection of Aphanomyces.  John Wieland  Improved Aphanomyces management. 

This is by no means a complete and detailed list of all the research being conducted on the production of sugarbeet in Minnesota and North Dakota. The grant funds provided by growers are matched by state and federal funds for scientist's salaries, facilities and other private grant sources totaling about $3,000,000 per year.

Please contact a Research and Education Board member from your cooperative if you have questions or concerns about research and education programs for sugarbeets. Go to to find a complete listing of members of the Research and Education Board.

Future Meeting Dates

Sugarbeet MBA Shortcourse, Grafton, February 19 & 20

International Sugarbeet Institute - Mar. 10 & 11 Alerus Center, Grand Forks, ND Doors open 9:00 a.m.

Close The Gap III

Be sure to participate in local meetings conducted by agronomy managers and agriculturists.

Checkoff Dollars Have Clout

Keep in mind that the $500,000 plus that the three sugarbeet cooperatives dedicate to research and education programs leverages an additional $3,000,000 per year. This money is state and federally appropriated and private company grants. These funds pay for scientist salaries, fringe benefits, equipment and other research related costs.

Beet Seed Development Foundation Projects

These projects are jointly funded by U.S. sugarbeet companies and beet seed companies. They involve in-depth long term projects as a part of The Beet Sugar Development Foundation cooperation with USDA scientist at 6 locations across the U.S.A.