Nutritive Value: Beetroot is eaten as a salad but it can also be pickled and eaten throughout the year. Beetroot contains 88 percent water, 8.8 percent carbohydrates and 1.7 percent proteins, 0.8 percent minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus and iron, and is rich in vitamin C.
Soil and Climate: Beetroot grows well in light and sandy soil. This is the only vegetable that can be grown in saline and alkaline soil with a pH up to 10. It is a cool to warm weather crop. Mild climatic conditions are good for beetroot; the optimum temperature for its growth is 18 - 21 °C. Temperatures below 10 °C for more than two weeks result in bolting which decreases the quality of the produce.
Important Varieties: Crimson Glory, Detroit Dark Red, Ruby Queen and Golden Beet are the popular varieties of beetroot grown in South India.
Planting and Irrigation: Beetroot is planted by direct sowing of seeds. Seeds are soaked in water and kept over night for better germination. Beet root is sown in March-April in hilly areas and in August-September in other regions. Sowing should be followed by irrigation. The beetroot crop should be irrigated every 7 to 8 days in the winter season to maintain a sufficient moisture level in the soil.
Plant Protection: Beetroot leaves are affected by leaf miner insect pest. The larvae of pest mines the subsurface of growing leaves, eats the leaf from the inner side and hamper the photosynthesis leading to reduction in yield. The pest can be controlled by adding neem cake in soil before sowing and spraying neem seed extract on leaves.
Harvesting: Beetroot becomes ready for harvesting 60 days after sowing. Harvesting is done by pulling or uprooting the whole plant; the edible part is separated from the foliage.