Farm Progress

Panhandle Research and Extension Center is evaluating whether fungicide treatments can improve winter storability of sugarbeets.

Bob Harveson

December 27, 2016

2 Min Read
FIGURE 1: Topped sugarbeets are placed in bags and storage conditions are simulated to study the effect of postharvest fungicide treatments.

Four postharvest sugarbeet fungicide treatments are being evaluated as part of a new research study underway at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. The study, which is looking at whether fungicide treatments can improve winter storability of beets, is being conducted with support from Syngenta and Western Sugar Cooperative.

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FIGURE 2: Sacked sugarbeets are buried to help simulate storage conditions.

The project consists of four fungicidal treatments that were applied to topped, harvested roots in mid-October (Figure 1). After the chemical products dried, the beets were loaded into onion bags and placed on a bed of sugarbeet roots on the ground. More beets were piled on top, burying the onion bags within the pile (Figure 2). We then added insulating hay bales to the pile (Figure 3) to try to mimic conditions that the crop is currently undergoing at the factories while waiting to be processed. The bags were used so we could more easily retrieve the sugarbeets from the center of the pile for analysis.

The concept is to test the degree of root rot, if any, and determine sugar concentrations after being stored in the piles. Samples will be removed by late January for analysis. Western Sugar will provide facilities, opening its tare lab to test the roots after being exposed to the various fungicidal treatments.

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FIGURE 3: Insulating hay bales were piled on top of the sugarbeets to mimic storage conditions at the factory.

This study is using clean roots from a field assumed to be disease-free (no root rot symptoms) when placed in storage. Future studies should also attempt to treat roots affected by root rotting pathogens, such as Rhizoctonia solani prior to placing in storage. This would help to evaluate the efficacy of these products for their ability to limit spread of the disease within piles from diseased roots to healthy adjacent roots.

Harveson is a Nebraska Extension plant pathologist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center.

This report is from UNL CropWatch.

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