Sugar beet is an important crop of arable rotations throughout the major growing regions of the UK. Commonly grown in conjunction with wheat, barley or pulses, sugar beet provides a valuable break crop returning organic matter to the soil and preventing the build up of disease. The root of the beet has a sugar content of around 17% and in the UK provides over half of the sugar we use. The balance comes from sugar cane that grows in tropical and semi-tropical regions of the world.
Sugar beet is sown from early March onwards and the operation is normally completed by early April. The seeds are sown in rows (drilled) 50cm wide, at a typical spacing of 18cm and between 2.5 and 3.0cm deep. Nitrogen fertiliser is applied to suit soil and crop requirements and herbicides are used to control weeds during the early stages of the plant’s growth. Today, beet farming takes place mainly in the Eastern areas of England, from Yorkshire to Essex, and in the West Midlands.
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