ISSUE #501

501 - Roundup Ready - Be Careful What You Wish For


ROUNDUP READY SUGARBEET TECHNOLOGY has been just over the horizon for many years. Its promise of ease of effective weed control has long been hoped for by nearly every Red River Valley sugarbeet grower. However adoption of this technology raises many more questions and concerns than just high cost at least for a few years until variety development progresses.

Variety selection decisions are going to be based on limited research trial information. In 2006 only one “biotech” coded variety trial was harvested. Up to 9 biotech trials will be harvested in 2007. Wise growers will make decisions on more information than just 2006 data.


What did we learn from the 2006 Biotech trial data?

  • 18 Roundup Ready varieties were tested in 2006
  • Only one variety met 2 year approval criteria (Tested in 2005 and 2006)
  • Four varieties were “on approval track based on 1 year data”
  • Five varieties were “not on approval track” due to RSA and/or RST criteria
  • Eight varieties did not meet the Cercospora leaf spot standard
  • Nine varieties being tested had Aphanomyces ratings greater than 5.0
  • Two varieties had Aphanomyces ratings greater than 6.0
  • Four varieties could be approved as Aphanomyces specialty varieties
  • All Roundup Ready varieties have diploid level Rhizomania resistance
  • 11 Roundup Ready varieties have “potential” for approval in 2008

Select Roundup Ready Varieties Based on Individual Field Needs

  • What is the disease history especially Aphanomyces risk?
  • Use RR varieties for Kochia problem fields
  • Use RR varieties for severe weed pressure fields
  • Use Aphanomyces specialty approved varieties for those bad disease fields
  • Will conventional varieties increase revenue per acre on many fields?
  • Will 2008 sugarbeet fields have RR volunteer crops as weeds?
  • Will RR variety vigor and emergence performance increase seed cost?
  • Fusarium resistance is needed in many Moorhead district fields

Other Questions of Importance

  • What is the replant policy for RR seed?
  • Will water quality on the farm affect Roundup activity?
  • Is Roundup use compatible with your sugarbeet production practices like cover cropping some fields?
  • What seed quality choices maximize my stand establishment for the least cost?
    • Tachigaren on poor Aphanomyces varieties – seedling only
    • XBEET or other priming treatments versus seed spacing choices
    • Pelleted seed to minimize skips and doubles & maximize stands
  • Can I maximize beet crop revenue using conventional varieties on low weed pressure fields?
  • Can I maximize revenue with high disease resistance from conventional varieties on certain fields?
  • Never split fields with part RR and part conventional varieties in 2008

Cost Versus Convenience/Conventional Versus

Roundup Ready Roundup Ready tech fees, seed cost, glyphosate cost, and application costs could easily average $90 – 100/acre in 2008. The 2007 Grower Cost Benchmark data summary for herbicides, hand labor, application costs, and consulting showed:

  • 27% of participants had weed control cost less than $50/A
  • 23% had weed control costs of only $50 - $60/A

Harvest Decisions to Maximize On-Farm Profit

Many tools are available to assist growers to maximize yields, minimize harvest losses, and improve beet storage. Maximize on-farm profit by selecting entire fields to prepile versus just opening with headlands and strikeouts. Sequence of fields harvested can maximize income during the full stock pile period as well.

501.2Internet Tools

  • Harvest brochure
  • Harvest loss appraisal tools and forms
  • Harvester checklist
  • Harvester slide rule
  • Defoliator checklist
  • Prepile/stockpile calculator


Contact your Agriculturist or Ag Office Coordinator for brochures, Harvester slide rules, gators, or other assistance.

Quality Samples for Profit

Ask your Agriculturist for sample bags to collect quality samples from fields. Harvest high sugar fields in pre-pile to maximize beet payment.

Fertilizer at Record Prices

Anhydrous Ammonia prices over $500/ton and Urea over $400/ton show need for zone N management to reduce costs and maximize recoverable sugar per acre.