I have a buddy who made up his own food plot mix this year for one of his many food plots. His mix included sugar beets and after talking with him a few days ago he was telling me how he couldn’t find any sugar beets that had germinated and how disappointed he was. We talked about it for awhile trying to deduce where he went wrong. I told him sugar beets are a pretty tough crop to produce and require an almost perfect seed bed for the best results.
After this conversation I thought I’d put into a blog some tips and tricks on how to be successful with your sugar beets food plot.
Sugar beets are not for the food plotter with "lazy" planting techniques; the technique of throw and grow, toss and germinate is not the best for this seed. Sugar beets require almost a Cadillac of seedbed with very little to no weed competition.
TIP #1: Herbicides
Apply a broad spectrum of herbicides. Following the directions for the herbicide you’re using; it is recommended to wait a week or two and spray your plot with that herbicide again to get the second batch of weeds combated.
Once weeds are sprayed and have died off, your next goal is a beautiful and firm seed bed for planting. Just like all seeds, when sugar beets are planted they must stay continually moist to activate germination while on the other hand stay dry enough to breathe to keep the seed from rotting out. This brings me to tip #2.
TIP #2: Seeding Rate & Depth
You can plant sugar beets with a planter drill or by hand broadcast, but it is recommended to plant ½” – 1” deep with good soil cover. The odd shape of sugar beet seeds requires excellent seed to soil contact for best results. You must use a culti-packer, weighted roller or equivalent to achieve a firm seed bed with appropriate seed to soil contact. But first make sure you have the correct amount of seed. Sugar beets do not like competition, even when competing with their own kind. The suggested seeding rate when planting sugar beets alone is 7 – 9 lbs. / acre; less if in a mix. You will not gain anything or do your food plot any favors by over-seeding beyond the suggested rate. However, you will have a lot to lose if over-seeded and they do not come up properly. Once your seed bed is prepped, firmed and planted it is best to firm up your seed bed again with your roller or culti-packer. A good rule of thumb here is when it looks firm enough for every other seed to have good seed to soil contact…. Do it again for sugarbeets!
Sugar beets will perform in full sun on well-drained to moderately drained medium to heavy soil types with a soil pH level of 6.0 – 7.0. They will mature in 30 – 45 days in the spring.
Wittenberg Seed Sales offers Deer Candy Sugar Beets by Brier Ridge sold in 1 lb bags or standard sugar beets sold in 5 lb bags!
Good Luck & Happy Hunting!