MSU-EARC Continues To Perfect Sugar Beet Research


October 21, 2020 | View PDF

Worker's begin the process of topping the beats during the 2020 harvest.

The Montana State University Eastern Agricultural Research Center has been harvesting sugar beet plots since Monday, Sept. 21. Chengci Chen, MSU EARC superintendent and cropping systems agronomist, explained that harvest has been going smoothly for the center thus far. 

The weather conditions from this year have affected harvest in both a positive and negative way. "The dry and warm weather makes harvesting easier for us. However, the abnormally warm weather in September is not ideal for sugar beet storage, which will affect the Sidney Sugars factory and grower's harvest schedule," stated Chen. 

The MSU EARC has about 300 plots to be harvested at the station. These plots include both variety and fertility experiments. Chen explained that the research center also has another 120 plots on-farm trials in area farmer's fields.

Research scientists and staff at the research center have been working on variety trials. "We continue a variety trial to select high yield potential and high sugar content beet varieties for growers in this region. We are also conducting fertility trials to figure out the good fertility management for high yield and high sugar content," added Chen. 

Chen and EARC staff have conducted trials to select adaptable varieties with high yield and sucrose concentrations, tillage study to compare conventional tillage to no-till, and a nitrogen and irrigation study to optimize irrigation and nitrogen management for high yield and sucrose concentration. 

He hopes that the products and management strategies EARC is testing will be effective and can be used by sugar beet growers to improve yield and sucrose concentration.

Chen said, "sugar beet is an important crop for the growers and community in the Sidney area. We, scientists and staff at MSU-EARC, will continue to do research on this crop and make this crop profitable and sustainable."


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