Beetroot Production Guide

BEETROOT

Climate

  • Beetroot is a cool-season crop, grown during the cooler season in warm areas
  • Optimum growing temperature: 15- 20°C, maximum growing temperature: 35°C
  • Soil temperatures for germination: > 7°C
  • Although tolerant to cold, they grow extremely slowly in winter.

Varieties

  • Common varieties: Lorate, Red ace, Globe dark red

Soil requirements

  • Sandy to deep, well-drained sandy loam or silt loam, high in organic matter, is recommended for beetroot.
  • Uniform soil moisture is essential for good quality.
  • If the soil is compacted or the clay content is very high, roots are likely to be deformed and to develop a tough texture that reduces quality.
  • Beetroot thrives in deep, rich sandy loam, with a pH of between 6 and 6,5.

Time for planting

Area                                     Best time                              Possible time

Highveld                              Feb.March,Aprl.Aug.Sept    Jan,May,June,July,Nov.Dec

Middleveld                          March,April,May,Aug            All year round

Lowveld                               March,April,Aug.Oct             May,June,July,Sept

Land preparation

  • Loosen the soil deeply and take out all clods
  • Add 15 to 25 tons/ha of manure and 300kg of 2:3:2 (37) kg/ha fertilizer or
  • Use one handful of 2:3:2 to every 1m2 or four handfuls compost, preferably
  • As seed is sown directly, fields need to be prepared correctly and thoroughly. The soil must be well tilled, free of old plant material and have a good crumb structure. Good soil preparation can be achieved by ploughing, harrowing and levelling prior to sowing.  

Planting

  • Use quality seed with a good germination percentage.
  • Watering before planting is recommended to keep soil moist
  • After one month, add LAN topdressing and work it in lightly.

Direct sowing

  • If you plant seed directly in the ground, soak it overnight in water before planting
  • Irrigate lightly a day before sowing
  • When planting in rows leave at least 30cm between the rows and plant the seeds at least 10cm apart and 3cm deep.
  • Cover the seeds with fine soil and keep the soil moist until the seeds have germinated and you can see the emerging seedlings.

Water management

  • Regular light watering required to maintain soil moisture
  • Irrigate with 20mm in the first week and switching to 40mm every week thereafter.
  • Irrigation is especially important in the early stages of plant development and during root development.

Top dressing

  • Apply a dressing of LAN when the beetroot is 4cm to 5cm high to ensure there is enough nitrogen to keep the plants growing well.
  • Apply at a rate of 20g/m2 at the three-leaf stage, about three weeks after emergence

Pests and disease control

  • Common pests: Aphids, cutworm and nematodes
  • Common diseases: mainly cercospora leaf spot
  • Use good quality, disease-free seed and practice crop rotation and sanitation to reduce the disease incidence.
  • Avoid growing the crop during the months when the disease causes problems.

Harvesting

  • When roots become 5 to 8cm in diameter
  • Yield average; 18 to 25 tons/ha

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