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- PANELLA, L. W., KAFFKA, S. K., LEWELLEN, R. T., McGRATH, J. M., METZGER, M. S., STRAUSBAUGH, C. A.
- Yield Gains in Major U.S. Field Crops 2014 ch.13 v.33 pp. 357-396
- Beta vulgaris, amino nitrogen, beets, betaine, canopy, cations, crop management, crop yield, fertilizer application, genetic improvement, industrial crops, juices, leaves, molasses, nitrogen fertilizers, photosynthesis, plant breeding, roots, soil, solar radiation, sucrose, sugar beet, white sugar, United States
- Sugar beet is an industrial crop, in that it is neither the seed nor the foliage that is the plant constituent of interest – not even the root itself, but rather sucrose refined from the root. For this reason yield is a complex trait, when looking at the amount of refined white sugar produced per area. Yield is calculated by the root weight times the percentage of that weight that is sucrose (usually expressed as percent of fresh weight), but also by the amount of the sucrose that can be extracted from the beet juice during processing (often expressed as juice purity or percent loss to molasses). All three of these components are variable in a population and can be improved through plant breeding. Percent sucrose is positively correlated to the amount of solar radiation captured and resulting photosynthesis once the leaf canopy reaches full coverage. The cations that interfere with the extraction of sucrose are related in a large extent to the soil in which the sugar beet is grown; however, the small amino-nitrogen compounds (e.g., betaine) can be lowered by proper nitrogen fertilization. Therefore higher yield can be achieved with a greater percent extractable sucrose (called Z-type sugar beet for ‘Zucker’ – ‘sugar’ in German) or an increase in tonnage (called E-type sugar beet for ‘Ernte’ – ‘harvest’ in German). Over the last one hundred years of sugar beet production we have seen an increase in both traits – achieved through genetic improvement and better crop management.