Nutrient Management Tips for Fields with Unharvested Sugarbeets

Unharvested sugarbeets can be a valuable source of nitrogen credits as part of a nutrient management strategy.
Unharvested sugarbeets can be a valuable source of nitrogen credits as part of a nutrient management strategy.

Nutrient management is a crucial consideration for growers and farmers who work with fields containing unharvested sugarbeets. The primary concern is whether leftover sugarbeets can offer nitrogen (N) credit for the upcoming planting season.

While the potential for additional nitrogen availability exists, unharvested sugarbeets themselves do not provide a direct nitrogen credit. If the beet tops were green at the time of removal, they may contribute some nitrogen to future crops in 2025 in states like Minnesota. Still, the decomposing roots could inhibit nitrogen availability for the 2024 crop. Adjusting nitrogen rates upward for the following year's growth may be necessary.

Experts generally advise planting soybeans in fields that had unharvested sugarbeets the previous year. Soybeans do not require added nitrogen, making them a suitable choice under these circumstances. However, specific nitrogen amounts reserved by decomposing beets are not widely known, so growers might need to consider an additional application of 30-50 pounds of nitrogen per acre, depending on the 2024 crop.

Regarding other nutrients, phosphorus (P) management should remain consistent with existing soil test recommendations and not be altered if unharvested sugarbeets are used. (This is based on the established fertilizer guidelines for Minnesota sugarbeets.) Additionally, no increased deficiencies of potassium or sulfur should develop under these conditions.

Resources from the American Crystal Sugar Company and the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative are available for comprehensive guidance on managing fields with unharvested sugarbeets. These organizations offer detailed guidelines on general production considerations and best management practices tailored explicitly to unharvested beet acreage. Exploring these resources can provide further insights into effective nutrient management strategies for these unique agricultural scenarios.

Is a glut of leftover sugarbeets impacting your nutrient management strategy over the next several growing seasons? A local John Deere dealer can help you find what you need to enrich your soil with unused crops.