ISSUE #497

497 - Planting Date + Stand Establishment = Profitability


The two most important controllable factors impacting crop yield, quality and profitability are planting date and stand establishment. Planting early from about April 25 to May 10 consistently results in a more profitable crop. Stand establishment goals should be to achieve a harvestable beet population of from 170 to 210 beets per 100 foot of row. Higher stands and planting about 4 days earlier accounted for about 60 % of the increased revenue achieved by the TOP 50 grower group for the period 2002-2006. Each week delay in planting after May 10 will reduce revenue per acre by $40 to $50 and sometimes more.

497.1Establishing a high plant population within the target range of 170 to 210 beets per 100 foot of row will ensure the best possible revenue per acre regardless of planting date and other growing season conditions. Planting the right variety at the correct seed spacing is only half the battle. Protecting that stand through the seedling stage and until harvest is the second part of the battle. Each 10 beets per 100 foot of row will increase revenue per acre by about $35, up to 210 beets per 100 foot of row. Consider the following options for stand establishment and protecting the valuable seedlings that are often so vulnerable to loss.

  • Use shallow tillage about 1-3" deep to conserve moisture and minimize erosion
  • Effectively pack the seedbed to ensure good seed to soil contact
  • Apply the right insecticide, at the right rate, with the right placement method
  • Consider using stinger tines between rows to bring up clods to stop erosion
  • Use cover crop to avoid stand loss due to wind
  • Be ready to cultivate to stop blowing if necessary.

Stand Establishment Success Depends On

  • Choosing the correct seed spacing for each variety and each field's condition
  • Careful seedbed preparation tillage-don't rush into wet fields
  • Proper planter readiness, use correct seed plates, vacuum settings and operating speeds
  • Avoiding insecticide placement in direct contact with seed causing stand loss
  • Not applying more than 3 gpa of 10-34-0 or equivalent N and K in other starters
  • Choosing the right seeding depth, not less than 1 inch nor more than 1.5 inches deep-seedling emergence rapidly decreases as planting depth increases to more than 1.5 inches

Cover Cropping Considerations

  • Broadcast cover crop seed just prior to seedbed preparation or
  • Seed cover crop right after seedbed preparation with a grain drill prior to seeding beets
  • Barley and oats have proven to be very effective cover crop choices
  • Don't use less than ½ bushel seeding rates (up to a 1 bushel seeding rate for maximum protection)
  • Only apply microrates or other herbicides in a 7 or 11 inch band to maintain cover crop between the rows
  • Leave the grass herbicide out of the first or first and second microrate applications
  • Control cover crop over the row by the 3 or 4 leaf stage to eliminate crop competition
  • Don't cultivate or spray out the cover crop from between the rows until the beets are able to withstand high winds

Contact Your Agriculturist for Assistance

497.2 (1)


Proper Pesticide Use

Be sure to use only those pesticides properly registered for use on sugarbeets in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2007. See pages 37 to 45 in the Pocket Production Guide for rotational restrictions and herbicide carryover concerns.

Information Available

Contact your Agriculturist if you haven't received a copy of the brochure "Planter Operation, Maintenance and Storage" or the seed size, plate selection and vacuum setting chart.