Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.), as a member of the family Chenopodiaceae, is a plant whose root contains a high content of sucrose. It is grown for commercial purposes in order to produce sugar in temperate continental climate regions.
Sugar beet is a biennial plant which gives a root of 1-2 kg in its first year of growth. If it is not harvested, during the second growing season the plant uses the nutrients from the root to produce flowers and seeds.
Sugar beet foliage grows to a height of 40-60 cm with a rosette of leaves.
Sugar beet contains 75% water, 16-18% sugar, 5-6% cellulose and 2-3% other substances, including minerals as well. Almost half of the water is re-used during sugar extraction while the rest evaporates. About 90% of the sugar content is used up in white sugar production. The rest becomes molasses which is used in the production of animal feed, yeast and alcohol. The beet cellulose is used as sugar beet pulp which is a feed additive. The remaining 2-3% contains magnesium and phosphorus that are removed from the wastewater of the technological process of sugar production and sold to farmers as supplements to soil that is poor in these substances.
In most areas of temperate climate sugar beet is sown in the spring and harvested in the fall. In the world’s sugar production sugar beet is used in 40%, while sugar cane in 60%.
The main product obtained from sugar beet is biological sugar whose yield per hectare can amount to 9-12 tons. Therefore, sugar beet occupies the first place in relation to calorie yield per unit area among all agricultural crops. Sugar beet root yield can reach more than 55 t/ha. There were some cases recorded where the yield results of individual sugar beet growers amounted to more than 120 t/ha.