Plan Ahead For Energy Beets

Be careful about which herbicides you apply this year so that you don't have carryover restrictions to work around when commercial production begins in 2014 or 2015.

Published on: May 17, 2013

Energy beet production may be a few years away in North Dakota, but you may want to be careful about which herbicides you apply this year.

"Several common herbicides may carry over and cause injury to the beets two or three years after they are applied," says Mohamed Khan, a sugar beet specialist at North Dakota State University

The ones to watch out for:

ALS inhibiting herbicides. They tend to have the longest rotation restrictions for energy beets (up to 40 months), plus a successful bioassay (measuring the effects of a substance on a living organism.)

Products containing sulfentrazone, atrazine, Sonalan, Treflan and Prowl. They have rotational restrictions of 24 months or longer for energy beets. Spartan has a rotational restriction of 36 months.

Sugarbeets are harvested in the Red River Valley to make sugar. In the future, lifters like this may be running all across the state to harvest sugar beets to make a bio-fuel.
Sugarbeets are harvested in the Red River Valley to make sugar. In the future, lifters like this may be running all across the state to harvest sugar beets to make a bio-fuel.

Pay attention to the crop rotation restriction of each active ingredient in pre-mixture herbicides, Khan advises. For example, Extreme has a 40-month rotational restriction, plus a successful bioassay, for energy beets because it contains imazethapyr (Pursuit) as one of the active ingredients.

Contact a chemical dealer or the county NDSU Extension Service agent for suggestions on what chemicals can be used.

"Effective herbicide strategies exist where sugar beets, corn and soybeans are traditionally grown in common rotations up and down the Red River Valley," Khan says. "Recommendations are available from private and public specialists. Also, growers should pay attention to proper sprayer cleaning and check for drift and/or the volatility of herbicides."

To learn more about herbicide carryover, see the "2013 North Dakota Weed Control Guide" and refer to Table Y15 on ages 112 to 114. The weed guide can be found at here. ALS-inhibiting herbicides are Group 2 herbicides and described on Page 108.

Commercialization of energy beets is planned for 2014 or 2015. The first facility could be followed by a series of up to 16 plants across the state that could produce sugar for industrial purposes or produce advanced biofuel. Each plant could create 23 jobs and require 30,000 acres of energy beets for feedstock.

Source: NDSU