There is much data on the impact of weather variables on the growth of sugar beet from studies conducted under controlled conditions or single field experiments, but these data are of only limited validity for other sites or larger areas. The aim of the present study was to quantify the influence of weather conditions on the growth of sugar beet for the further development of simulation models, based on data representative of sugar beet cultivation in Germany. For this purpose, 27 field trials were conducted in 2000–2001 in commercial fields with variable climatic and soil conditions. From the end of May until the end of the season, beets were harvested manually every 4 weeks, the dry matter yield of leaves and taproot was determined and their growth rates were calculated. Temperature, solar radiation, rainfall and humidity were recorded daily for each site and the potential evapotranspiration and climatic water balance were estimated. The soil water content to a depth of 0.9m was determined at every harvest date. Several functions were developed to describe the growth of sugar beet as affected by the given meteorological variables. From sowing to the end of June, the dry matter accumulation of both leaves and taproot was strongly enhanced by increasing temperature and during this period leaf dry matter increased linearly with thermal time. After reaching 700 °Cd, the taproot dry matter accumulated exponentially with thermal time. The optimum mean daily air temperature for taproot growth was approximately 18 °C. Higher temperature occurring in July and August decreased final taproot yield, but by the end of the season, growth was independent of temperature. High solar radiation advanced growth during the first 65 days after sowing and again in October. Neither the water input by rainfall and irrigation nor the climatic water balance adequately described the growth of the leaves or taproot, but it was shown that the increase in taproot dry matter during July and August depended on the amount of available water in the soil. The maximum sugar yield that can theoretically be achieved in Germany and comparable agroclimatic regions was calculated as 24 t ha-1. The present data reliable for a large agroclimatic region in Europe are of significant value as input for simulation models.