Though hard to achieve, growers can meet these objectives with the proper macronutrient and micronutrient strategies in place. Many growers already have a good understanding and plan for NPK management in sugar beets. However, key micronutrients are essential for a crop to function properly and achieve maximum performance and yield potential.
Common deficiencies limiting sugar beet production include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and boron.1 To help reach goals, growers should consider a boron or zinc fertilization program to potentially help increase yields and quality.
Is there enough available boron and zinc in the soil for the crop?
In 2020, Idaho, Minnesota, Michigan and North Dakota represented more than 80% of the sugar beet production in the US.2 Surveys and soil samplings in those states show a high percentage of boron and zinc deficiencies.
It’s common to find variability in soil concentration of micronutrients at a field level. Meaning soils identified as having “sufficient” levels of boron and zinc can still have field zones where nutrient concentration is extremely low—resulting in deficiencies that can compromise yield and quality. Now, growers are turning to Koch Agronomic Services (Koch) for a micronutrient fertilization program that can give their sugar beet crop a better chance for success against deficiencies.
Does micronutrient fertilization in sugar beets works?
Fortunately, multiple studies have shown positive results in sugar beets from micronutrient applications.
Boron is directly related to sugar production and quality. It plays an important role in water consumption and translocation of hormones and metabolites—such as sugar—to the roots. Separate studies found the addition of boron at different rates resulted in increased root weight, diameter and length, yield and percent of sugar content in roots of sugar beets.3,4 These results show the application of boron has a direct influence on sugar beet yield and quality.
Zinc assists in the utilization of nitrogen and phosphorus in sugar beets, which suggests it is responsible for increased top and root weight gains and yields. A study from the University of Wyoming showed a root yield increase of 2.8 tons/acre (11%) and a sugar yield increase of 983 lb/acre (12%) when zinc was applied to sugar beets.5 These results are consistent with findings from other studies that indicate top and root dry weights of sugar beets—as well as yield and quality—are significantly influenced by applications of zinc.6,7
A Strategy that Meets the 4R Nutrient Stewardship
When it comes to micronutrient nutrition, not all sources and applications are the same. To prevent deficiencies and crop toxicity, sugar beet growers should develop a micronutrient management strategy. This strategy should include the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework to help ensure the right source, rate, time and placement of nutrients.
WOLF TRAX® innovative micronutrients from Koch can help maximize micronutrient efficiency and aligns with the 4R framework. With WOLF TRAX, dry dispersible powder (DDP®) technology can be coated onto dry fertilizer to provide uniform distribution across fields. This distribution promotes better root interception and increased potential for nutrient uptake.
When you need to set up your sugar beet crop for success, it’s crucial your primary, secondary and micronutrient needs are met. Make a plan to give your boron and zinc distribution a boost with WOLF TRAX. Ask your local retailer how you can optimize yield and sugar beet potential with WOLF TRAX or connect with your Koch representative today.
1 Ali-Abdallah, Ali-Mekdad. 2015. Sugar Beet Productivity As Affected By Nitrogen Fertilizer and Foliar Spraying With Boron. The International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences ISSN: 2319-7706 Volume 4 Number 4 (2015) pp. 181-196
3 Lawson, Vincent. 2010. Effect of Boron Fertilizer on Sugar Beet Grown on Fruitfield Sand Soi. Iowa State Research Farm Progress Reports. 373. http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/farms_reports/373
4Gobarah, M. E. and B. B. Mekki. 2005. Influence of boron application on yield and juice quality of some sugarbeet cultivars grown under saline soil conditions. J. Applied Sci. Res., 1: 373–79.
5Stevens, W. B., and Mesbah, A. O. 2004. Zinc enhances sugar beet emergence and yield on a calcareous soil with marginal zinc availability. Online. Crop Management doi:10.1094/CM-2004-0805-01-RS
6Abdel-Motagally, F. M. F. 2009. Effect of potassium fertilizer and foliar spray of micronutrients on sugar beet grown in newly reclaimed soil. Minia J. Agric. Res. & Develop., 29(2): 283-298.
7Menisy, M. G. A. 2009. Response of sugar beet to nitrogen fertilization rates and foliar application of zinc and boron under newly reclaimed soils at Fayoum. Ph.D. Fac. Agric. Fayoum, Fayoum University, Egypt.