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Potassium deficiency reduces sugar yield in sugar beet through decreased growth of young plants

  • Autor/in: Füllgrabe, H., N. Claassen, R. Hilmer, H.-J. Koch, K. Dittert, T. Kreszies
  • Jahr: 2022
  • Zeitschrift: Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 185(5)
  • Seite/n: 113, doi.org/10.1002/jpln.202200064


Abstract Background Optimum potassium (K) nutrition is essential for high sugar yield and quality of beet crops. Aims We quantified the effect of potassium deficiency on sugar beet dry matter and sugar yield formation during the growing season. Methods Sugar beets were grown on low, medium, and high soil K concentrations in a long-term K fertilizer field experiment on a silt loam alluvial soil. Plants were harvested at four time points during the growing season, including the final harvest. At each harvest, the dry matter yield and K concentration of leaves and beets (when applicable) were recorded, allowing us to study their growth rates in different growth phases. At the final harvest, sugar concentration and internal beet quality were measured. Results Low soil K concentrations resulted in an approximately 10% lower sugar yield compared to high soil K supply. Interestingly, retarded growth of low K plants already occurred during the germination phase and in the first weeks thereafter, whereas later on, growth rates were similar. Higher soil K levels led to an increased K uptake rate and thus a higher final total K uptake. High K plants showed rapid youth growth and reached their maximum growth rates earlier than plants grown under low K conditions. The initial differentiation between the low and high K treatments persisted because the plants subsequently grew at similar growth rates at both low and high soil K supplies. Conclusion The early growth reduction in the low K treatment was probably caused by the low amount of K stored in sugar beet seeds in combination with low K availability in the soil. It is concluded that under overall low soil K conditions, adequate amounts of K fertilizer should be applied to meet the demand of sugar beet seedlings for maximum growth and final sugar yield. Banded K fertilizer application next to the plant rows is supposed to be efficient for this purpose.
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