Idaho Researchers Continue Beet Studies

Published in the June 2013 Issue Published online: Jun 30, 2013 Allen Thayer
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Sugarbeet growers figure to benefit from both ongoing and new studies conducted by researchers at the University of Idaho.

The annual UI Snake River Pest Management Tour takes place June 25 at the Kimberly (Idaho) Research and Extension Center. The UI Snake River Weed Management Research Tour follows June 26 at the Aberdeen (Idaho) Research and Extension Center.

Dr. Don Morishita, weed scientist and superintendent of the Kimberly R&E Center, is leading one collaborative project with entomologist Dr. Erik Wenninger and plant pathologist Dr. Oliver Neher studying pest response to different nitrogen, irrigation and tillage regimes. Pest response includes diseases, insects and weeds.

"Can we grow sugarbeets without any tillage at all?" Morishita asks. To answer this aspect of the study, researchers will grow beets using conventional till, strip till and no till (direct seed) on four acres at Kimberly.

The researchers also want to answer questions about water requirements and are also collaborating with Dr. Howard Neibling, irrigation specialist.

"Based on our previous studies, strip till uses less irrigation water than conventional till,"

Morishita said. "Will less water be needed for direct seed? Water requirements should be less."

Another aspect of the study concerns the direct seed response to fertilization. "Is more or less nitrogen required under direct seed?" Morishita asks.

Finally how are pests impacted by tillage methods?

"We're officially beginning it this year," Morishita said. If weather permitted, the beets were to be planted the fourth week of April. "We want to see how water and fertilizer needs may differ."

Additionally Morishita is studying the timing of herbicide incorporation using sprinkler irrigation. These are soil-active herbicides currently being recommended to help manage glyphosate weed resistance.

"These herbicides need to be activated by the application of water."

Dual Magnum, Eptam, Nortron, Outlook and Warrant are the herbicides being used.

"How soon should sprinkler irrigation incorporation be done?" Morishita asks. "That same day or can you wait nine days?"

This is the second year of this study. Herbicides are allowed on the ground for 0, 3, 6 and 9 days before water is applied.

First year results showed most of these herbicides remain stable up to six days, Morishita said. Researchers hope Mother Nature cooperates by keeping moisture away for the duration of this study.

Other studies look at weed control with various adjuvants and herbicides that are tank mixed with Roundup Ready.

Wenninger is working on two solo projects.

One compares seed treatments for the management of beet leafminer flies.

"This project will compare efficacy of available insecticide seed treatments and some foliar treatments against beet leafminers to determine the best tools for management of this pest," Wenninger said. "Yield responses will also ultimately be compared among treatments."

A second study involves insecticide efficacy trials against beet leafminer, bean aphid and sugarbeet root aphid.

"We will compare effects of various seed treatment and foliar insecticides and their combinations against these insect pests of sugarbeet," Wenninger said. "Included in the trials will be currently registered products, as well as new products for which registration is being pursued."

Neher will look at variety and irrigation treatment response of pathogens and insect pests in a collaborative project with Wenninger.

"My main research focus on station is the control of Rhizoctonia solani, causal agent of Rhizoctonia crown and root rot," Neher said. "I am conducting multiple studies evaluating different fungicides either applied in furrow or as foliar sprays. We are also testing different seed treatments (chemical and biological) for their ability to control Rhizoctonia damping-off."

In addition to the chemical work, Neibling, Wenninger and Neher are investigating the effects of different irrigation levels (based on four evaportranspiration rates) on the severity of Rhizoctonia root rot.

The public is welcome to attend and a free sponsored lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the field day at noon.