Cultivation Tolerant Beet Cultivars

Cultivation Tolerant Beet Cultivars
Daniel Priddy1 and Daniel Brainard2
1Research Technician, and 2Professor, Michigan State University

Take Home Points

  1. Boro may be slightly more a cultivation tolerant and weed suppressive beet cultivar than other varieties, though differences might not be of practical significance to growers.
  2. Finger Weeders provided better weed control than Hilling Disks and low beet mortality.

Tables beets are among the most challenging crops to cultivate mechanically. They are direct seeded and not very weed competitive or cultivation tolerant until the 4-6 leaf stage. Given their delicate nature, we designed a field experiment to explore the following questions:

  • Are some beet cultivars more tolerant to cultivation forces than others?
  • Do beet cultivars differ in their ability to compete with weeds?
  • Are certain in-row cultivation tools more effective at beet cultivation than others?

To answer these questions, we conducted field trials during the 2020 and 2021 field seasons. We selected 4 distinct beet cultivars:

And 3 in-row cultivation tools:

We cultivated beets at 24 days after planting, when beets where at the 4-6 leaf stage.


Beet survival following cultivation was high (>80%) in both years and across all cultivars. Beet cultivars differed in their cultivation tolerance to all tools in 2020, but not in 2021. Chioggia Guardsmark was more cultivation tolerance than Touchstone Gold in 2020, but this difference was not detected in 2021

Efficacy of cultivation tools were measured by calculating survival of beets and condiment mustard, a surrogate weed species sown prior to cultivation. Application of Finger Weeder, Hilling Disks, and Handweeding tools did not produce differences in beet survival in 2020 or 2021. However, Finger Weeders were significantly more effective at killing condiment mustard weeds than Hilling Disks in 2020 and 2021, and similar control to Handweeding in 2021.

Condiment mustard weed biomass was collected at the end of 2020 and 2021 seasons to detect differences in the ability of beet cultivars to compete with weeds. Weed pressure was much lower in 2021 than in 2020. In both years, Boro was among the most weed suppressive cultivars.

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