Data collected on 181 fields from 1998 to 2000 were analyzed for associations among cultural practices in table beet (Beta vulgaris) and levels of decay in the harvested beet roots. Increased risk of decay was associated with short rotations between beet crops, certain crop rotations in the four years before beets, the frequency of row cultivation, and narrow row spacing. Shielding during cultivation was associated with increased risk of decay, but the effect may be an indirect one. Decay levels were not associated with beet variety, the use of manure or preplant fertilizer. Decay did increase with higher rates of nitrogen side dressing. Mean decay differed significantly among growers, and could be explained in part by the set of cultural practices used by a grower. The results suggest that the risk of decay is determined by interacting biological and cultural factors. Manipulation of cultural practices and cropping sequence may be useful in managing levels of beet decay.
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