Today, we’re focusing on the best beetroot farming techniques and practices. From choosing the best varieties, and controlling pests and diseases to harvesting.
Beetroot is a type of vegetable mainly grown due to its edible root. The plant produces red oval roots and leaves that usually grow up to 40 centimeters in length.
Beetroot farming is easily manageable and effortless. The main counties producing beetroot in huge tonnes are Kiambu, Nakuru, and Tharaka Nithi.
Table of Contents
Beetroot’s main health benefits
Excellent source of dietary fiber that helps in digestion
Beetroot helps to prevent cancer due to the presence of anti-cancer properties like phytonutrients
Rich in vitamin B that reduces birth defection risks.
Excellent source of vitamin C which helps the pancreas, kidneys, bones, and liver in the body.
Best beetroot varieties
- Burpee’s Golden – this is a good flavoured variety that produces round and yellow roots and its leaves can be consumed like spinach
- Cylindra – this is a dark crimson cylindrical variety that is highly resistant to bolt.
- Chioggia Pink – these are red and round root varieties. They are usually surrounded by beautiful red and white rings inside and are so sweet and tender.
- Detroit 6 Rubidus – has round and firm roots and also it’s highly resistant to bolt disease.
- Bolt hardy – this variety possesses bolt resistance characteristics and also produces smooth round roots.
Best climatic requirements for Beetroot farming
Beetroot requires cool weather conditions and can be grown throughout the year as long as there is plenty of water for irrigation. Nonetheless, it can tolerate medium heat and extreme cold temperatures.
The optimum temperature required must be between 15 – 25 °c. Extreme temperatures results in lower production.
Well-drained fertile soils with a ph of 6 – 7 is also required.
Preparation of land
Before planting ensure the land is clean and free from weeds and plough the land and also keep the soil fine-tuned for good aeration.
It is important to apply drenching pesticides to kill and destroy their eggs which might be lying in the field.
Propagation is mainly practiced using seeds. Beet seeds can be sowed 2cm deep, 7cm apart from each plant, and about 40cm between rows. After sowing, you can expect the seeds to start germinating between 12 – 14 days. It takes about two months to reach maturity.
After two weeks after germination, seedlings need to be thinned to attain about 4 to 5 inches of spacing. This is done to minimize overcrowding. Usually, the weaker seedlings are removed to allow the stronger ones to grow without disturbance.
Important to note that, when the plants are too close to each other they occasionally produce poor-quality roots that are small in size.
After planting the seeds irrigation should follow immediately. During the dry season, plenty of water needs to be availed for the crops. For a faster germination process, a lot of water is required.
When there is a lack of enough water it usually results to woody low quality roots.
Weeding and mulching
To avoid nutrient competition, weeds should be always removed when they start to appear. Mulching should also be practiced for good maintained soil structure and moisture.
Regular crop rotation
The best way to fight crop pests and diseases is through crop rotation practice. This is done through planting non-family or non-related crops after harvesting previous crops.
Beetroot requires three main nutrients to be supplied through the soil and that is; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In a hectare of land, you’ll need to apply about 70kg of nitrogen, 120kg of phosphorus, and 100kg of potassium to your farm. In addition, compost manure may also be added so as to aid good aeration.
For soils that are boron deficient consider boric acid application. This is because boron deficiency causes beetroot to be weak.
How to water your plants
Watering starts immediately after sowing all beetroot seeds in the soil. Once the roots are established, they start acquiring moisture from the soil.
You should always be careful to avoid over-watering since this practice leads to bolting(production of many leaves with no roots). Whereas under-watering produces woody roots.
Watering should always be done 5 times a week in the dry season and 2 times per week during the cold season.
Pests and diseases
Beetroot is a unique crop that doesn’t have so many enemies, the only common disease is leafspot. The signs are black spots on the leaves. Leafspot is prevalent in hot weather conditions. The best method to control is through crop rotation.
Beetroot harvesting is usually done in about 9 weeks after planting. During this time the bulbs are 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter and when they are soft and tender. Bigger beetroots than this size are occasionally rescinded by the market.
When best agricultural practices are observed beetroot can produce between 250 – 300 tonnes per hectare. You must also be alive of the fact that seed variety, soils, and other elements of production are dependent to achieve high yields.
Important tips to note in beetroot farming
- Seeds must be sowed slightly before frost season
- Beet plants require soils rich in organic matter
- Soak seeds in 24hrs to break seed dormancy
- Bone meal addition to the soil helps in the production of nitrogen and phosphorus
- When the leaves start turning Yellow it shows there is a nutrient deficiency.
- Beetroot harvesting is done 70 days after planting.
Beetroot farming is a profitable business venture when compared to other vegetables. In Kenya for instance a kilo of beetroot costs around kes80 – kes120 in major supermarkets and other multiple markets in the country.