In the past, pulling weeds on the sugar beet fields was a job done by hand and shared by the whole family. It was necessary hard work because weeds left unchecked would deprive more than half the crop of light and nutrients.
Today, however, effective herbicides enable the beets to grow unhindered.
Weeds are by far the greatest challenge facing sugar beet farmers, but fungal diseases and insects are additional threats to the harvest. Powdery mildew, rust, cercospora leaf spot and ramularia leaf spot are typical fungal pathogens in sugar beet. The main insect pests are aphids, millipedes, garden symphylans, pygmy mangel beetles, slugs, tarnished plant bugs and beet flies.
(From left to right) Symptoms of damage of the pygmy mangold beetle on sugar beet plants, Adult pigmy mangold beetle on sugarbeet plant, Symptoms of the Cercospora beticola leaf spot on a sugar beet leaf.