ISSUE #460

460 - Fall 2004 Decisions Dictate 2005 Success


Numerous decisions made this fall set the stage for success or failure for the 2005 sugarbeet crop. It's never too early to plan for success. Those decisions most critical in the fall include 1) tillage of the land before beets, 2) fall seedbed preparation, 3) residue management, 4) field selection, 5) crop rotation decisions, 6) fertility management, and 7) variety selection. Looking at problems and successes with the 2004 and previous crops can pinpoint changes that need to be made.

Take a look at each area listed above to give the 2005 beet crop every chance to be the best it can be. Implementing best management practices in every aspect of raising beets will minimize impact of unfavorable weather next year.

Field Selection

  • Avoid herbicide carryover problems - see pages 39 to 47 of the 2004 Pocket Guide.
  • Avoid fields with excessive residual soil nitrogen.
  • Soil test all fields to 4 feet deep.
  • Avoid very poorly drained fields if possible.
  • Avoid fields with extremely heavy Kochia pressure - reduce the Kochia seed bank in other crops for two years before planting beets.
  • Avoid fields with very heavy disease pressure when possible.
  • Select the best variety for every field.

Crop Rotation

  • Avoid following soybeans - yields are almost always seriously reduced.
  • Yields and quality almost always best after wheat/barley/edible beans.
  • Beets after corn, potato, and summer follow usually have above average yields but often below average quality due to excess available nitrogen.
  • Rhizoctonia root rot may become more severe after corn, soybeans and edible beans.
  • Check on herbicide use and carryover.

Tillage and Residue Management

  • Excessive residue on fields in 2004 kept soils cold and wet and often reduced or delayed emergence.
  • Heavy small grain straw from high yielding 2004 wheat fields may require an extra tillage pass to be ideal for spring planting.
  • Don't reduce surface residues so low fields are prone to over winter erosion or blow so badly beet stands are reduced next spring.
  • For maximum stand establishment consider fall ridging resulting in ideal seedbeds next spring.
  • Planting fall rye strips and planting beets between them next spring has proven very successful for Minn-Dak growers on fields prone to wind erosion.

Field Drainage

  • Complete field drainage plans this fall to minimize diseases and crop loss next year.
  • View satellite images of 2004 fields to be planted to beets to assist with field drainage.
  • Utilize topography maps and other precision Ag technology to maximum benefit.

Fertility Management

  • Use satellite imagery to give N credits to crops following sugarbeets in 2005.
  • Plan now to utilize satellite imagery to zone soil sample fields.
  • Variable rate apply nitrogen to management zones to realize $30, $40, $50 or more increased revenue per acre in 2005.
  • Plan now to use banded P or starter fertilizer applications to 1) improve early season growth, 2) increase yields, and 3) reduce P fertilizer cost for 2005.

Variety Selection

  • Observe fields now for Rhizomania and presence of other diseases.
  • Plant resistant varieties in fields adjacent to 2004 fields with serious disease problems.
  • Review past coded variety trial performance including 2004 data before finalizing 2005 seed orders.

Precision Tractor Guidance Systems Prove Invaluable

  • For fall ridging fields faster and straighter.
  • For very precise spring deridging.
  • For precise planting in the spring.
  • For planting straight rows of fall rye cover crop.
  • For precise across the row herbicide application when its wet.
  • For applying banded P in the fall and planting exactly above these bands in the spring.
  • For exact tillage swath widths to save time and fuel.

Harvest Decision Tree Proves Useful

The American Crystal Sugar Company Agriculture Department has developed a decision tree to provide assistance with deciding the order to harvest fields in. The decision tree will do this for both prepile and stockpile harvest periods. This decision tree has been used several hundred times in each of the last three years.

Decision Making Assistance Available

  • Contact your American Crystal Sugar Company agriculturist.
  • Talk to university specialists.
  • Utilize advice of respected crop consultants.
  • Talk to neighbors (yes some will share great advice).
  • Review American Crystal Sugar Company Blue Book (Crop Information Book) data.
  • Coded variety trial results.

Dual Herbicide Use

A fall application of Dual Herbicide in October can be made if growers signed the liability release forms this spring. Fall applied Dual will be safer on the crop but will provide slightly less weed control than spring applied pre-emerge Dual.

Zone Fertility Management

Shareholders are encouraged to make plans right now to have 2005 beet fields zone sampled and variable rate apply N for next year. The unusual 2004 weather makes this practice even more important.