Do beets Come Back Every Year? Growing Beets Problems

Beets do not come back every year like perennial plants, but grow in a two-year cycle called biennial. Gardeners treat beets as an annual by harvesting the swollen roots in the first year. If left to overwinter, beets produce seeds and then die.

Can beetroots come back each year?
Beets don’t grow back every year. If left after the first year, they produce seeds and die after the second year.

The follow article shows how to plant and harvest beets, and answer questions about diseases and pests, such as ‘Why are my beets all tops no bottoms?‘.

All about growing beets

Beets facts

Plant Name: Chenopodiaceae
Plant Family: Chenopodiaceae
Scientific Name: Beta vulgaris

How to grow garden Beets

Beets are from the Mediterranean area and spread to east Europe in past times. They are eaten as a vegetable across the Mediterranean region as well as Asia Minor and the Caucasus.

Beetroots were a central vegetable as early as the ancient Romans, who would cook beet roots for a substitute for cabbage.

Over time, English recipes from 14th century refer to beet root. Improved beet has made its way into Northern Europe and France from Italy in the 16th century. German literature form 1558 references eating beet root.

Beet roots were not considered important vegetables until after 1800 when they became more popular on the European continent. Only two kinds, Red and Long Red, were listed by English seedsmen. U.S. seedsmen listed only one variety in the early 1800s. By 1828, four kinds were listed in the U.S.

Garden beets come in a wide range of colours. Their roots may have distinct light and dark rings and some grow in a traditional turnip shape whilst others are elongated or cylindrical.

Video – Growing Beets from Sowing to Harvest

Can you plant beets in the fall?

Table – Beet planting information

Seeding Rate Per Foot 6 to 12 per foot
Seeds Per Ounce 1,600
Space Between Plants Rows: Plant seeds 1
Planting Depth 1/2″
Plant Height Medium
Plant Types
Favorite Varieties

MonoGerm, Pacemaker II hybrid, Earlisweet hybrid, Warrior, Detroit Dark Red, Golden Beet (yellow), Cylindra (oblong)

Best suited for special planting for fall harvest: Earlisweet Hybrid, Pacemaker II, Detroit Dark Red

Seed Viability (Years) 4 years
Seed Germination 41 to 70°F
Germination Time At soil temperatures:
41°F, 42 days
50°F, 17 days
59°F, 10 days
68°F, 6 days

Planting Instructions

Most seeds are multigerm (seedball) and germinate more than one plant per seed. Thin beets as they grow to insure optimal production. Beets can be transplanted, but perform best when directly seeded.

When to plant beets

Table – Fast Facts

Light Requirements Full sun to part shade
Temperature Adaptations Semi-hardy: plant between March 20th and July 15thSuited for special planting for fall harvest: plant between July 1st and August 1st.
Acidity (pH) Tolerance 6.8 to 6.0
Salinity (Ec) Tolerance 4.0
How Pollinated Wind
Growth Habits Biennial grown as an annual

What is the best fertilizer for beets?

Band 1.5 pounds of all purpose fertilizer (20,20,20) for every 100 feet of row

How much water do beets need?

An even, continuous moisture supply is required throughout the season. Dry periods cause reduced growth, and stringy or tough beets.

How long do beets take to grow?

Seeds are multigerm and each seed produces several plants. As plants emerge, thin carefully leaving one plant every two inches for optimal development. They grow best in cool weather. Beets grow best in deep, loose soil and should receive even moisture throughout the growing season. Dry spells produce stunted growth and is the cause of beets being tough or stringy.

Hoe carefully to avoid damaging the roots which are very close to the top of the soil.

Fertilize plants at 3 to 4 week intervals to encourage rapid growth.

How many beets per plant?

As seeds are multigerm, each gives rise to more than one plant. Thin plants to about 2 inches apart. The tender, young beet thinnings may be eaten as greens.

In areas with hot summers, plant about six weeks before date of last frost or as soon as soil can be worked in the spring.

How long to germinate beets – Germination Time (Days)

At soil temperatures:
41°F, 42 days
50°F, 17 days
59°F, 10 days
68°F, 6 days

Seed Germination and Temperature Range

41 to 70°F

When to harvest beets

How and when to harvest beetroot
When is the right time to harvest beets?

Table – Fast Harvesting Facts

Planting to Harvest About 45 to 65 days
Average Yield About 15 pounds per 10 feet of row
Recommended planting for a family of five 50 ft
Recommended Uses Boil, stir-fry/saute, braise/stew, bake, pressure cook, or microwave

How to harvest beets – Recommendations

Harvest greens anytime after plant is about 6″ tall or as plants are thinned. Greens are most tender before the root enlarges. Young plants can be used whole and cooked as greens.

Watch for doubles when thinning beets and carefully thin out all but one beet per cluster. Thin plants 3″ to 6″ apart and eat thinnings as greens.

For optimum flavor, harvest beet roots when young – between 1 1/2″ and 3″ in diameter. Over-mature beets lose tenderness and sweetness and become tough and stringy.

How to store beets after harvest

Common storage (at low temperatures 32 to 40°F and high humidity — relative humidity greater than 90%) Frozen, canned, pickled.

Growing beets problems – Diseases and Pests

Beets problems and pests PDF

Problem: Beet Leafminer
Affected Area: Leaf

Beets are prone to leafminer infestation
Leafminer pest of beetroot leaf

Description: Small whitish maggots feed between the leaf surfaces. Damage appears as winding trails in leaf tissue. As mines enlarge, they may merge and from large, light-colored blotched areas. Feeding lasts 1 to 3 weeks. They may pupate in the leaf or in the soil and 1/4″ long, gray, flies emerge in 2 to 4 weeks. Control: Remove and dispose of infested leaves. Floating row covers may screen out the fly.

Control host weeds like lambs quarter to reduce local populations.

Control: Remove and dispose of infested leaves. Floating row covers may screen out the fly. Control host weeds like lambs quarter to reduce local populations.

Problem: Leaf Hoppers
Affected Area: Leaf

Small, white maggots feed in between the leaf surfaces. Damage shows up as winding trails and sometimes large, light-colored blotched areas on the leaves. The larva feed for 1 to 3 weeks before pupating in either the leaf or the soil and after 2-4 weeks a gray fly emerges from the pupa.

If you notice some leaves are infested, remove and dispose of them. Floating row covers may screen out the fly. Control host weeds like lambs quarter to reduce local populations.

Problem: Leaf Hoppers

Affected Area: Leaf

Leafhoppers are yellowish green, winged insects that feed on plant leaves by piercing them with their proboscis and sucking on sap. Leafhoppers spread virus diseases that affects the appearance of plants by making them crinkled or curled.

Control weeds where pests may hide by spraying the area with pesticides. Check your county agent for more information on the best pesticide to use in your environment.

Problem: Aphids
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Small green, red, black or white sucking insects less than 3/16″ long. Aphids live by sucking plant fluids which causes curled or twisted, yellow leaves. Leaves generally become sticky from the honeydew substance they excrete.

To control aphids, predator insects such as ladybugs and lace wings can help. If insecticidal soaps aren’t working, you can spray them with a strong stream of water.

Sevin, diazinon, malathion, and rotenone are all effective pesticides to use but there are necessary time limits between applications. Check with your County agent for current recommendations because they may change.

Problem: Damping Off
Affected Area: Seedling

Description: Seedlings develop blackened stems, wilt and die

Control: Rotate crop location each year. Use treated seeds.

Problem: Curly Top
Affected Area: Leaf and Root

Curly top virus is spread by leafhoppers, which causes young plants to die quickly. Young leaves roll inward, pucker and have vein-like swellings. Control the leafhopper population and remove infected plants to avoid these symptoms. Crops planted and harvested early often escape the flight of leaf hoppers.

Problem: Alternaria Leaf Spot
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: This disease is characterized by lesions that develop on the leaves and are circular to irregularly shaped, dark brown to black, frequently zonate, and may be covered by fungal growth and conidia.

Control: Experts find that it is not necessary to have control measures.

Problem: Aphid
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown Feeders

The aphids damage beet by sucking plant sap and retarding growth. The bean aphid and the green peach aphid have many natural enemies such as lady beetles, lacewings, syrphid larvae, predacious hemipterans, and braconid parasites.

Control: The best form of control is to apply insecticides in areas of heavy infestation.

Problem: Armyworms
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Armyworms eat beet leaves and stems
Armyworms will destroy your beetroot crop

Description: Plants infected with armyworms are damaged by feeding by larvae, mostly at night and much of the foliage is destroyed in a very short time due to caterpillar consumption.

Control: The best form of control is to apply insecticides where available and plow and disk deep to reduce the damage to the sugar beet.

Problem: Beet Leafhopper
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: The severity of the damage to sugar beet from the virus infection depends on the size and proportion of the leafhopper population carrying the virus from its winter breeding sites.

Control: The best form of control is to apply insecticides.

Problem: Beet Mosaic
Affected Area: Leaf

The best form of control for this disease is to avoid planting beets in infested fields or fields where wild beet varieties have been grown. Beet crops can be monitored by cutting young leaves and checking for greasy, yellow spots that develop into circular with sharply defined margins. These spots are often seen as yellow rings with green centers.

Problem: Beet Petiole Borer
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: Plants infected with the beet petiole borer have punctured petioles and leaf veins. Warty growths develop at the site of many of these punctures, which often turn darker than the surrounding area.

Control: There are no control measures available.

Problem: Beet Western Yellows
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: This disease infects the leaf at the tips, it starts out with light yellow spots that get more intense as it spreads. Older infected leaves become thickened and brittle, as well as completely yellows except for where the vein is nearby.

Control: The best form of control is to use resistant cultivars where available and separate new plantings from infected crops by as much space and time as possible.

Problem: Beet Yellow Net
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: This disease is characterized by one to several scattered yellow spots on a leaf blade and uniform yellowing of veins and veinlets occurs.

Control: There are no control measures available at this time.

Problem: Beet Yellow Stunt
Affected Area: Leaf and Petioles

Description: This disease is characterized by intense twisting, crumpling, and increased leaf growth of one or two leaves of intermediate age. Petioles are shortened and the leaves become spotted and yellow with the youngest leaves becoming dwarfed, malformed, twisted, and slightly spotted.

Control: The best way to control weeds is to avoid planting in a spot that is free of weeds and where nothing has been planted before.

Problem: Beet Yellow Vein
Affected Area: Leaf and Growth

Description: This disease is characterized by dwarfing and vein yellowing of young leaves of infected plants causing the main vein to turn yellow. Dwarfing usually occurs on only one side of the plant, causing a stunted, asymmetric growth pattern.

Control: There are no control measures available at this time.

Problem: Black Root
Affected Area: Root

Description: This plant disease shows signs of yellowing and wilting, such a unthrifty top growth. Plant roots are produced in abundance, showing many of them looking shriveled and black.

Control: There are a few ways you can better control weeds. For instance, you can use resistant cultivars, rotate out of sugar beet with something else, keep your soil well drained and maintain weed hosts.

Problem: Blister Beetles
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: The adult beetles injure sugar beet by feeding on the leaves leaving only the petiole portions of the plant.

Control: Parathion is the only control measure, where it is available.

Problem: Carrion Beetles
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: Carrion beetles typically eat the leaves’ edges, leaving many projections. The adults cause some damage to sugar beet plants, but the larvae do more damage when the plants are thinning out during planting.

Control: Destroying weeds and place them on the side of the road, fence rows, and ditches where carrion beetles overwinter will help to reduce the insect population.

Problem: Cercospora Leaf Spot
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: The disease is characterized by circular spots developing on leaves, which are green to brownish-tan with dark red to purple borders. Blighted leaves soon collapse and fall to the ground but remain attached to the crown, unaffected leafs are left on top of the tree.

Control: Remove weeds by planting resistant plants, including food crops to a three year rotation with nonhosts. Clean plowing practices help to turn under crop residues.

Problem: Crusting
Affected Area: Seedlings

Description: In crusted soil, seedlings fail to emerge, or they grow parallel to the soil surface below the crust and emerge through cracks or cause upheavals of soil plates.

Control: NA

Problem: Cutworms
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: Cutworms commonly cut sugar beet plants just below the soil surface, which can create severe damage.

Control: The best form of control is to apply insecticides and exercise certain cultural practices, such as spring plowing and disking, to help reduce damage to the sugar beet.

Problem: Dodder
Affected Area: Entire Plant

Description: Dodder is a parasitic plant with slender, threadlike, leafless, yellowish or orange stems. Dodder spreads from plant to plant if not controlled.

Control: The infection center should be burned or controlled by chemicals and seed of the parasite should not be allowed to be produced there.

Problem: Downy Mildew
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: The fungus attacks young heart leaves of the crown and creates small, distorted, light green, thickened, puckered leaves with downward-curled margins.

Control: The best form of control is the use of resistant cultivars and allowing a beet-free period before planting the next crop.

Problem: Empoasca Leafhoppers
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: Large populations can cause hopperburn, speckling, and yellowing of affected leaves.

Control: The best form of control is to apply insecticides.

Problem: False Chinch Bug
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: The false chinch bug tends to congregate in large numbers, and its feeding desiccates and kills the beet. The insect damages both leaves and seedstalks but rarely causes economic losses in sugar beets.

Control: No insecticide is registered for control of this insect.

Problem: Flea Beetles
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: Damage to leaves is caused by adults, which eat numerous small holes in the leaves.

Control: The best form of control is to apply insecticides and eliminate field bindweed and wild mustard since they are two of the preferred weed hosts of flea beetles.

Problem: Freezing Damage
Affected Area: Seedlings

Description: Aboveground frost damage in seedlings, causing plant parts to be dry, may resemble damping-off. The primary difference is that below the frost line the roots of frost-damaged plants appear healthy, whereas damping-off plants are diseased belowground.

Control: NA

Problem: Fusarium Yellows
Affected Area: Root

Description: The older leaves show yellowing between the larger veins and become dry, brittle, and heaped around the crown.

Control: The best form of control is rotation with other crops for a few years.

Problem: Garden Symphylan
Affected Area: Roots

Description: The garden symphylan damages sugar beet by feeding on germinating seed and on taproots and feeder roots of young and old plants.

Control: Soil fumigation with 1,3-dichloropropene helps to control it and restores land to full productivity for several years.

Problem: Grasshoppers
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: The insects feed on sugar beet leaves and in heavy infestations they will attack the leaf petioles late in the season. Certain cultural practices, such as plowing, disking, and harrowing, can destroy grasshopper eggs in the soil and reduce the population of the insects.

Control: Insecticides available for control of grasshoppers on sugar beet are diazinon, malathion, parathion, and carbaryl.

Problem: Hail Damage
Affected Area: Entire Plant

Description: Hail may cause moderate damage, perforating or tearing sugar beet leaves, in a storm of short duration. However, complete defoliation may occur in a hailstorm that continues for a long time.

Control: NA

Problem: Lettuce Infectious Yellows
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Interveinal yellowing or reddening and stunting of affected plants are characteristic of lettuce infectious yellows on a wide range of commercial and weed hosts. The early symptom is very mild spotting, which develops into interveinal yellowing.

Control: The best forms of control include reducing whitefly populations, avoid planting in infected areas, destroy infected plantings of cucurbits and lettuce immediately after harvest, and weed control in crops and in nearby fields.

Problem: Lygus Bugs
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: On sugar beet grown for roots, Lygus bugs cause injuries by puncturing leaf surfaces with their beaks and sucking plant juice from new succulent leaves. Affected areas turn yellow to brown, and occasionally all beet plants in a field have discolored leaf tips. Injured plants wilt more easily than healthy ones do. The destruction of all overwintering sites along the banks of ditches, fence rows, and roadsides helps to reduce populations of Lygus bugs and the damage they cause.

Control: Parathion is the only insecticide approved for control of these insects on sugar beet.

Problem: Magnesium Deficiency
Affected Area: Entire Plant

Description: Plants suffering from magnesium deficiency become yellow and interveinal tissue becomes scorched. Dry spots form within the scorched areas and gradually expand to include most of the interveinal tissue except for a green triangular area, in the shape of an arrowhead.

Control: NA

Problem: Manganese Deficiency
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: As the severity of the symptoms increases, leaf blades of manganese-deficient plants gradually fade from green to a uniform yellow. As manganese deficiency increases, a gray, metallic, sometimes purplish luster develops on the upper blade surface. This symptom is followed by gray to black freckling along the veins.

Control: NA

Problem: Molybdenum Deficiency
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Symptoms of molybdenum deficiency first appear as a general yellowing. The center leaves are light green to yellow and as the symptoms increase in severity, pitting develops along leaf veins.

Control: NA

Problem: Nitrogen Deficiency
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: As a plant becomes nitrogen-deficient, the leaves lose their green color and turn yellow. The leaves in the center of the plant are smaller than the old ones and turn an intense green.

Control: NA

Problem: Pale-Stripped Flea Beetle
Affected Area: Root

Description: The damage to roots often resembles the injury caused by black root. If possible, sugar beet should not be planted in fields that were heavily infested with the adult beetles and larvae during the previous year.

Control: Most insecticides used to control the sugar beet root maggot are also effective against larvae of the pale-stripped flea beetle.

Problem: Phoma Leaf Spot
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Leaves may be covered with small brown spots that sometimes have concentric rings near their perimeter. These circles typically contain dark black balls that can produce a new plant in the future, pycnidia.

Control: A four-year rotation with crops other than hosts and fungicide seed treatment are the only recommended controls.

Problem: Phosphorus Deficiency
Affected Area: Leaf and Growth

Description: Phosphorus deficiency is the hardest to recognize. Plant growth will be stunted, and the color of the foliage will fade. As phosphorus becomes more deficient, the plant’s deep green color often starts to show a metallic luster which ranges from dull grayish green to almost bluish green.

Control: NA

Problem: Powdery Mildew
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: When field-grown sugar beet plants are two to six months old, mildew first appears as small, disperse, radiating, whitish mats of hyphae and conidia on older, lower leaves. The underlying leaf tissue may become yellowed, then purplish brown, and a field of heavily infected plants may take on a bluish cast.

Control: The best form of control is to use fungicides.

Problem: Ramularia Leaf Spot
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Typical leaf spots are light brown, large and angular. Mature lesions may have a dark brown to reddish brown margin, and the dry centers of the leaf spots become silvery gray to white when the fungus sporulates.

Control: There are no control measures because of its minor importance.

Problem: Rhizoctonia
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Symptoms of Phytophthora might be first detected, as the leaves turn yellow and wilt suddenly. These wilted leaves deaden and die and leave behind a brown to black rosette at the crown of the plant. On the plants roots, infected areas are dark brown to black.

Control: A four to five year rotation of sugar beet with corn or small grains is the only recommended control.

Problem: Rhizoctonia Root and Crown Rot
Affected Area: Root

Description: The first aboveground symptoms are sudden wilting, yellowing of foliage and black drying of petioles near the crown. Wilted leaves subsequently collapse and die, forming a dry, brown or black rosette, which persists through the growing season. On the root surface, infected areas are dark brown to black.

Control: The best forms of control include tilling and fertilizing that promote good crop growth and adequate soil drainage, crop rotation with corn or small grains, avoidance of hilling-up of plants with cultivated soil, and control of weed hosts, such as pigweed.

Problem: Rodents
Affected Area: NA

Description: NA

Control: The use of bait has been effective for the control of some rodents.

Problem: Salt Injury
Affected Area: Entire Plant

Description: Injury may occur in arid and semiarid regions where silts accumulate in the root zone of sensitive plants, including sugar beet. If such accumulation occurs, plants are stunted, fail to emerge, or die. Salt accumulation on the soil surface or in the root zone also interferes with nutrient uptake, water absorption, and photosynthesis. Seedlings are more sensitive to salt damage than are older plants.

Control: NA

Problem: Spinach Leaf Miner
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: The spinach leaf miner feeds inside leaves making slender, winding mines, which become enlarged and form blotches as the maggots grow. Destruction of alternate hosts, such as lambsquarters, reduces infestations of the spinach leaf miner on sugar beet.

Control: Insecticides approved for control of this pest are diazinon, trichlorfon, parathion, aldicarb, and phorate.

Problem: Stem and Bulb Nematodes
Affected Area: Roots and Crown

Description: This disease is characterized by swelling of most plant parts in young seedlings. These plants will be severely stunted and develop a multiple crowned appearance. Infected scars may encourage crown canker and girdling at the crown.

Control: The best forms of control include rotating crops and using good sanitary practices.

Problem: Sulfur Deficiency
Affected Area: Leaf

Description: Leaves change gradually from green to light green, then light yellow with a faint tinge of green remaining. Leaves remain erect as the center leaves change from green to yellow and petioles and blades are brittle and break readily if they’re compressed by hand.

Control: NA

Problem: Sweet-Potato Whitefly
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: Plants infected with sweet-potato whitefly have the sap sucked out from the undersides of the leaves. In addition, the insect transmits lettuce infectious yellows virus, which causes yellowing and stunting of infected plants and thus reduces yields.

Control: There are no control measures available at this time.

Problem: Verticillium Wilt
Affected Area: Root

Description: Initially, foliage turns straw-colored and the outer leaves wilt and become dry with the inner leaves becoming twisted and deformed.

Control: Rotation with crops other than sugar beet has been recommended as a means of preventing a buildup in the soil of strains that attack sugar beet.

Problem: Webworms
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: Webworm larvae, moving rapidly up and down and forward and backward, spin webs over beet leaves, usually near the leaf base. They consume leaves at such speed that they can completely defoliate a beet field in a very short time. Weed control is extremely important, since webworms prefer weedy fields and deposit eggs on such weeds as lambsquarters and Russian thistle.

Control: Some insecticide control is available.

Problem: White Grubs
Affected Area: Root

Description: White grubs damage sugar beet by chewing off small roots and eating into large roots. Taproots are often severed so that plants wilt and eventually die.

Control: Sugar beet and other crops that are susceptible to white grubs should not be planted in fields that were previously planted with sod.

Problem: Wireworms
Affected Area: Root

Description: Wireworms damage sugar beet by feeding on seed and seedlings, chewing off small roots, and tunneling through large roots.

Control: Certain cultural practices, such as crop rotation and deep plowing of infested fields, help to reduce the wireworm population. Diazinon and fonofos are currently approved for control of these pests.

Problem: Yellow Wilt Leafhopper
Affected Area: Leaf and Crown

Description: Wilts destroy sugar beets more than the yellowing from feeding from insects, producing a wide range of symptoms like stunting and yellowing.

Control: The best forms of control include using resistant cultivars, applying insecticides, and avoid planting in infested areas.

Other resources relating to Growing Beets

How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Beets

Beets – How do you know when beets are ready to harvest?

Learn How To Grow Beets In The Garden

Clarisse Walters
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