Targeting sugar beet nutrition closer to crop uptake rather than off-take could help increase sugar contents and minimise late season losses, growers have been told.
This season’s hot dry summer followed by a wet mild autumn caused regrowth and subsequently reduced sugar levels in many crops. But this could have been minimised by paying more attention to fertiliser use throughout the season, said Mark Law of Law fertilisers.
Good, early establishment is important and he suggests that seedbed fertilisers allow earlier drilling and canopy development. The use of soluble phosphates close to the developing seedling will speed up growth past the vulnerable cotyledon stage, he said.
The use of complex nitrogen compounds also needs to be considered in light of potentially longer growing seasons, Mr Law added. “…more complex compounds can increase [cell] stomata number and distribution.
“This will lead to improved capability of leaves to preserve water and so cope with drought conditions and, more importantly, to increase the rate of photosynthesis.”
Magnesium is also important, but he said growers should opt for slow release compounds to provide season-long nutrition, rather than highly soluble products such as kainite – which may be more vulnerable to leaching when applied months before drilling.
Foliar feed and key trace elements can help the beet crop keep growing and minimise late-season losses, he noted.