Beet is a fairly common vegetable crop in our garden beds. But more and more gardeners are complaining about breeders that beet varieties have lost their quality. The root crops have become woody and herbaceous in flavor. Their pleasant sweetness has disappeared. The more experienced assure that nothing has changed and that beet still forms a high-yielding, delicious root crop with a pleasant sweetness.
The analysis of our reader‘s questions shows that not all of them take into account the biological characteristics of growing beets and do not implement agricultural requirements, which leads to impaired metabolic processes in plants and deteriorates the quality of root crops.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEET?
Beet is a long-day plant, which lacks lighting intensity when sown early, laying down the main quality indicator for future root crops.
Beet does not tolerate strong shade. When sown under trees, into the root zone of perennial garden crops, it develops poorly under the influence of lower soil temperatures, lack of light, and nutrients that take away its stronger and more active roots.
The beet that forms root crops needs more nutrients and their lack, especially together with irregular and untimely watering, limits the growth of the cells. Root crops remain small and have very stiff tissues.
The lack of nutrients and, above all, the violation of their proportion in the soil greatly affect the taste of beet.
The unique feature of beet is its high sodium content and its ratio to calcium (10:1). Experiments have shown that sodium, when applied to the soil, displaces potassium and other elements from the soil uptake complex in even small amounts, making them available to plants.
The exchange process between cations of sodium and other elements contributes to an increase in the weight and sugar content of root crops by 0.5-1%.
The poor quality of beet may be caused by increased soil acidity, which disrupts the flow of nutrients needed by the plant.
HOW TO GET BIG AND SWEET BEET?
The position of beet in the crop rotation
When growing beet in a crop rotation, the best predecessors to plant are late vegetables (bell peppers, eggplant), squash (zucchini, pastry), onions, and garlic. Asparagus beans and lacy peas create the best conditions for beet when planted on compacted beds. However, all root crops are poor predecessors of beet.
Soil quality requirements
Like other crops, beet prefers a well-heated area, so it is best to place it on a raised bed, which will provide good light. The plot should be level, as beet does not tolerate long periods of water stagnation. In terms of physical conditions, the soil should have good drainage, plenty of light, moisture, and good permeability so that it is not oxygen-deprived.
Soil for beet should be neutral, pH = 6.5-7.2 units. Increased acidity reduces the quality of root crops, so the soil (if necessary) is deoxygenated. This procedure is usually carried out in autumn to allow timely separation at the time of fertilizer application. In this case, the fertilizer is applied under spring tillage. As the acidity increases, some nutrients become unavailable to the beet. Dolomite powder or lime is used as a deoxidizer.
Clean the beds of traction, weeds, and other debris after the pre-harvest body. Water to provoke germination of weeds in the fall. Apply mineral fertilizer – nitrate phosphate or phosphorus-potassium compound with minimum addition of nitrogen – on the germinated weeds and re-till at 10-12inch (25-30 cm).
It is useful for beet sowing green manure in winter. beet is often affected by scab. Sowing a mixture of green manure crops such as radish, rape, and mustard not only serves as a good fertilizer to fluff the soil with its roots but also sterilizes the soil from scab, nematodes, and decay.
When the green mass grows to 4inch (10cm), Green manure can be re-cultivated in autumn or left in the soil preparation in spring.
If the soil is loamy and has a heavy composition, replant in the spring. If you are not using green manure, you can use a soil amendment – agricultural perlite or agricultural vermiculite – to reduce the density of the soil.
Fertilization of beet
The beet does not like to “binge,” so when the soil is treated primarily in the fall. It should be made 60-70 g/11 sq. ft. of nitroprusside, 50-60 g/11 sq. ft. of ammoniacal phosphorus, and 30-40 g/11 sq. ft. of potassium sulfate or a mix of vegetable crops.
Nutrient deficiencies can be compensated for by feeding during the growing season. On highly fertile soils, do only 1/3 of a standard fertilizer, or 1-2 cups of ash per 11 square feet, under basic treatments.
Time to sow beet
You can sow beet if the spring is very warm with no return frost and daytime temperatures within 55-62°F (13-17°C) when the soil warms to 37-39°F (3-4°C). If the spring is too long and frost is encountered at the time of sowing, the root crops may go into bloom and not form the long-awaited, delicious root crops. Therefore, you should not rush to sow beet. You need to wait for stable warm weather and good soil warming to 41-42°F (5-6°C) for the root layer.
Sowing plan for beet
The program for sowing beet is rotational sowing with rows 15-18inch (40-45 cm) apart, or double rows with rows 10-12inch (25-30 cm) apart within the band and rows 15-18inch (40-45 cm) apart between the bands. Seeds were sown at a depth of 0.8-1inch (2-2.5 cm) on dense soils and 1-1.5inch (3-4 cm) on light soils. Depending on the air temperature, shoots appear on days 5-6 or 10-11.
To keep the soil moist, cover the bed with a film after sowing the beet until individual shoots appear. You can cover it with cardboard and water it systematically. The moisture will soak through the cardboard and prevent a dry crust from forming on the soil.
The optimum temperature for beet is 64-71°F (18-22°C) during the growing season. If the temperature rises above 77°F (25°C), the metabolic process of root crops slows down, and they become fibrous and lose their sugar content. To control the effects of negative temperatures, it is necessary to keep the soil continuously covered, increase the frequency of watering, which will lower the temperature of the soil, and mist the plants.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE TASTE OF BEET?
How to improve the quality of root crops?
Beet seedlings grow dense branches and will form excessively small and numerous tuber crops if timely action is not taken. Therefore, plant density plays an important role in forming tuberous crops of optimal diameter and shape.
Buds and beet seedlings should be thinned twice.
- At the stage of 2 true leaves. Leave 1-1.5inch (3-4 cm) between seedlings. Place 2-3 beet in the bouquet.
- At the stage of 4-5 true leaves. The distance between seedlings increases to 2.5-3inch (7-8 cm). Leave only one most developed plant.
When thinning the beet, especially the first one, prune the seedlings on the ground but do not pull them out. When pulling out, you can also pull out neighboring plants.
The beet seedlings after the second thinning can be replanted as seedlings with other crops in a compacted seedbed.
Delayed yield reduction can significantly reduce the total crop yield.
Sometimes after seedling emergence or after the first thinning, beet seedlings begin to “die” on a large scale. It is possible that the root system of the seedlings is affected by a root fungus. It is necessary to treat the soil immediately with a plant bio fungicide according to the instructions.
Timely and proper nutrient supply to the culture plays an important role in obtaining high-quality root crops, which are rich in sugars, vitamins, trace elements, and other compounds needed by humans.
Fertilization will be ineffective if it is not combined with watering and weeding. All feeding should be done at the beginning of August. beet’s most intensive feeding should be in mid-July (10-20th). In this period beet spends the maximum amount of nutrients to form the mass of root crops.
Plan of feeding beet:
- The first fertilization of beet is done at the stage of 2 true leaves (after the first flower thinning) at the rate of potassium fertilizer of 15-20 g per 2.5 Gal (10 l) of water. You can fertilize with a wood ash infusion instead of potash. 1 cup of grass ash is soaked in a bucket of water for 3-4 hours, filtered, and watered 2. When watering the nutrient solution, direct it into the furrow at a distance of 4inch (10 cm) from the beet rows. Do not let the nutrient solution touch the plants.
- In the initial stage of development, plants should develop healthy, well-developed traction. Therefore, for the growth and development of beet leaves, make the next application after the second thinning with urea at a rate of 30 g/11 sq. ft. of planting area. At this stage, you can also use fertilizers such as “Universal Organic Mineral Fertilizer”, which contains trace elements in addition to nitrogen.
The third fertilization of beet is done at the stage when the plants are closed in the row. It contributes 20 and 25 grams of calcium superphosphate and potassium sulfate per 11 square feet, as well as one cup of ash. During the root growth stage, in order to increase the sugar content of beet and to form a delicate flesh, it is necessary to spray the plants with boric acid at a dose of 2.5 Gal (10 liters) of 2 g of the drug in water.
To increase the sugar content of root crops, salt is spread in the soil under the root crops with table salt at the stage of 8-9 true leaves. During this period, the culture needs to increase the sodium content of the soil. Dissolve one tablespoon of table salt in 2.5 Gal (10 l) of water and water beet along the furrow. one bucket of the solution is enough for irrigation of 33 foot (10 m).
Lack of sodium can be identified by the red color of the leaves (not to be confused with varietal characteristics). When the red color appears, experienced gardeners recommend watering the beet with a watering can with a fine nozzle. This procedure will increase the sugar content and increase the volume of the root crop.
Do not increase the concentration of salt. Excessive salt causes a slowing of plant development. During the warm season, plants can be sprayed with saline water up to three times.
beet is very responsive to boron, copper, and molybdenum. Spray plants with a solution of trace elements between major feedings.
Proper watering of beet
The beet should be watered with warm water because cold water can provoke the appearance of fungal diseases in the root system.
In hot weather, beet should be watered at a moderate rate each morning or late afternoon. If mulching is used, you can reduce the frequency of watering and monitor the moist state of the soil under the mulch.
Do not allow the top layer of soil to dry out before increasing the rate of watering.
Caution. Beet’s bitter taste is caused by uneven watering, dry soil, and the formation of soil sludge after watering.
From June, reduce watering to 2-3 times a week. The soil under the root crops should be moist. If the weather is rainy, do not water the beet.
From the beginning of August, the watering rate is reduced, and from the middle of the month, watering is stopped. In the last month, excessive watering negatively affects the quality of root crops, reducing their sugar content.
GENERAL CARE OF BEET
In addition to fertilization, thinning, and watering, beet is very responsive to the condition of the soil cover. Soil clogged by irrigation delays the development of root crops, pushing them out of the soil (except for “cylindrical” varieties). Therefore, it is essential to perform timely weeding during the growing season, loosen the soil, and to increase the oxygen supply to the root crops.
The first loosening of beet is done 3-4 days after the end of heavy germination. The subsequent loosening is repeated after irrigation or precipitation. After irrigation and moisture absorption, the soil is covered with fine mulch. In the case of pressing root crops, the starting method is used.
Thus, precise agronomic techniques for planting beet will help obtain high-quality root crops with high sugar content and tender flesh.
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