Once upon a time, a leafy plant with a thick, fleshy root flourished around the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. Called Beta maritima
, it was the ancestor of today's sugarbeet, from which growers now produce almost half of the refined sucrose used by consumers and industry alike.
The beet prospered in coastal areas where boron was deposited in abundance by sea spray. Huge reservoirs of boron exist in the oceans, and whether this abundance created a boron dependence or beets would not have evolved without it remains a sweet mystery.
People discovered that the thick roots of the beets contained sugar that could be extracted and crystallized. Years of selective cultivation—choosing the plants with the biggest roots and highest sugar content to breed from—produced what we have today in the sugarbeet, Beta vulgaris.
But while sugar became more plentiful because of the crop, the plant had not lost its need for high levels of boron to grow and produce good yields.
U.S. Borax's Solubor®
provides the necessary boron for sugarbeets. As a foliar spray, it is easy and convenient to use, and it’s easy for vegetable and fruit growers to calculate the right amount to use in their foliar mixes.
In its 200-year journey from seashore to inland farm, the sugarbeet brought its boron dependence along with it and is one of the most boron-intensive crops known today. Often, however, beet fields cannot naturally supply enough. A typical 60-tonne-per-hectare harvest needs 600 grams of boron per hectare for growth.
What happens when there's not enough boron? The growing points of the root and the shoot languish swiftly and the young leaves in the developing crown die, creating the traditional symptom of "hollow heart" later in the life of the crop. The hollow fills with rainwater, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, and "heart rot" results.
By the time the symptoms are visible, it's usually too late to treat the problem. All the grower can do is top the beets at harvest, cutting off significant root material along with the leaves and stalks. Both bulk and the high-sugar content are lost.
U.S. Borax recommends that farmers monitor the boron status of their fields through periodic soil and plant tissue analysis, particularly on light, sandy, and alkaline soils. Solubor
can easily be added to sprayers along with other fertilizers or herbicides. It should be used as a soil spray before or at planting, or as one or preferably two foliar sprays when plants reach four-to-six and ten-leaf growth stages. A dry summer can also indicate the need for an additional spray later in the season.
Bigger and Sweeter with Solubor
If all the nutrients—including boron—are available in the right amounts, boron-deficiency can be avoided, producing optimal crop and sugar yield. Topping can be limited to the green components alone, leaving beets with maximum root weight and sugar content. Studies have shown that boron-supplemented beet crops can deliver 30% higher root weights, and 40% greater sugar content than comparable plantings.
A key factor, as with other crops suffering from boron deficiency, is that yield will be reduced even if physical symptoms do not show. Avoiding this hidden hunger with Solubor ensures the best possible yield—a sweet solution all around.