Beetroot stand management (VG06117)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
This project was carried out by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries in response to processor and grower needs to improve the yield and quality of processing beetroot.
Size and variety were two of the main concerns for growers of processing beetroot in New South Wales. Maximum production was required of 50-75 mm diameter beetroot to fit into packaging that appeared attractive to consumers on supermarket shelves. Better varieties were always needed that improve the efficiency of production and meet the specifications set by the processor.
In a series of on-farm trials, dense beetroot plant populations were found to be self-regulating. Therefore farmers could plant beetroot in rows to suit their sowing, inter-row, and harvesting machinery with little impact on processing yield. Row spacing had little impact on yield when beetroot was grown to 50-75 mm in diameter.
Farmers and processors needed to monitor beetroot size late in the season and organise harvest when the optimum size range is approaching.
Orientation of the rows in an east-west direction resulted in a yield loss of 3-4 tonnes per hectare compared to the southerly-most rows in the three-row bed system used. Cropping should have be in north-south orientation if this was possible, to produce more uniform yielding beetroot crops.
A key requirement of any new processing variety was that each seed produces a single plant because most beetroot seeds were actually a cluster of seeds that may produce from 1-5 seedlings. Single seedling seed helped the farmer produce the highest harvestable yield. Several of the varieties tested went close to producing 1-1.3 plants per seed. In addition, these varieties were suitably dark red/purple in colour, and they yielded as well as the industry standard. On the basis of this project, a cooperating farmer switched completely to a newer hybrid variety.
Most of the varieties were globe-shaped, but a cylindrical-shaped variety trialled yielded as well as the industry standard, and could be suitable for the industry except for the need to re-engineer the method of slicing.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of SPC Ardmona Operations Limited and the vegetable industry.
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