Sugarbeet quality was reduced in 2016 because of Cercospora leafspot, excess nitrogen and extended warm fall.
Michigan Sugarbeet growers experienced the lowest sugar content since 1986. Multiple factors are involved when it comes to a sugarbeet plant producing and storing sugar. In fact research has found that maximizing beet quality (% Sugar) and recoverable sugar per acre (RWSA) involves more than a dozen controllable factors. To complicate matters, uncontrollable factors also cause beets to react to differing environmental situations each year. These will include: the amount of rainfall, temperature, length of growing season along with disease inoculum level. The interaction of all of these factors will result in varying degrees of impact on yield and quality.
A look back at 2016 and ahead to 2017
If there are two words out there that farmers never wish to hear used together, it’s PESTICIDE RESISTANCE. Unfortunately, growers had to face this issue head on with Cercospora Leaf Spot (CLS) in some portions of the upper Midwest during the 2016 growing season. The fungal pathogen Cercospora beticola, which causes CLS, is now confirmed resistant to a widely used fungicide.
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The 45th annual survey of weed control and production practices among sugarbeet growers in Minnesota and eastern North Dakota benefited from an uptick in participation compared to 2012. A total of 183 growers responded to the 2013 survey request, compared to 114 the prior year. Overall, growers planted just over 676,000 acres of sugarbeets in the Minnesota/ eastern North Dakota region in 2013. The 183 survey respondents represent 18% — or 121,063 — of total acres planted.
Of the acres reported upon, 99% were planted to Roundup Ready® sugarbeet varieties. Total beet acreage treated with herbicides in 2013 (taking into account multiple applicatons) was 232%. While that level was slightly higher than 2012’s 208%, it was lower than most of the past several years. In 2007, for instance, the last year prior to the introduction of commercial Roundup Ready beets in the region, herbicide treatments stood at 383%.
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A Profile of the Fargo, N.D.-Based USDA-ARS Sugarbeet Research Team
Unlike sugarbeet growers, who harvest the fruits of their labors every year, those who conduct basic research on this crop may not witness the commercial payoff from their work for a decade, two decades — or even longer. While we all need a certain amount of patience and persistence in our jobs, no one relies on such traits more than public scientists like Larry Campbell, Karen Fugate and Melvin Bolton.
Managing Cercospora Resistance: An Outline of the Issue — And Recommendations — in Michigan Sugarbeets
By Greg Clark
Cercospora leafspot is among the most serious diseases of sugarbeets in Michigan, capable of inflicting significant tonnage and sucrose losses as well as increased impurities. Yield losses of two tons per acre and one-fourth point of sugar are common in our growing region, with some fields having lost upwards of several tons and a couple points of sugar.
Editor & General Manager of The Sugarbeet Grower