- An experiment was done in collaboration with a grower farming a Bunter sandstone soil in Nottinghamshire that yields only 50 t/ha when sugar beet is grown conventionally but is capable of producing over 100 t/ha of other root vegetable grown on beds.
- The experiment compared the factorial combinations of beet grown at target populations of 90 or 140 thousand plants/ha on vegetable beds or conventional 50-cm rows.
- Beet grown on the bed system yielded around 90 t/ha of adjusted clean beet at both plant population densities, almost 20% more than a conventional crop grown with 90,000 plants/ha on 50-cm rows. Increasing the number of plants on 50-cm rows to 140,000 plants/ha increased the yield to 95 t/ha suggesting that sugar-beet crops grown on the some light, relatively infertile soils may benefit from higher than currently-recommended plant population densities.
Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry
- An analysis of British Sugar field survey data suggests that, whereas the currently-recommended plant population targets of 80 – 100,000 plants/ha may be appropriate for the majority of sand, loamy sand, and sandy and clay loam soils, they may not be sufficient on some of the more fertile silt and peat soils whose yields appear to continue to increase at plant populations up to 120 or 140,000/ha.
- The finding that sugar-beet yields on certain soils, particularly some fertile silts, may benefit from higher than the currently-recommended plant population densities merits further study.