How to get beets to come up? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My question is how to get beets to germinate. We have planted them twice in our raised bed the spring and they have not come up well at all. We have not got any kind of stand at all. The seeds are fresh and purchased this spring from two different sources. Any help will be appreciated. Jeff Dockery

-- Jeff Dockery (, April 18, 2002


I bet that you've planting the seeds upside-down.

-- Cabin Fever (, April 18, 2002.

How deep are you planting them? Do they stay damp? A light covering of straw helps. Having any problem with any other seeds? Anything unusual about that particular bed? What's the temp been?


-- Amy (, April 18, 2002.

With small seeds like that, you want to cover them fairly lightly, and try to keep the soil moist until they germinate. A light covering of grass clippings might help.

-- mary (, April 18, 2002.

Patience!! I have seen it take 21 days... I usually grow anywhere from 5-8 bushels a year, we love them and you just have to wait.. I cover them lightly with dirt. I don't water them, but we generally have adequate rainfall so it is not necessary here in Ohio.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, April 18, 2002.

The quoted #1 reason for seeds not coming up, is that they get planted too deep.

-- BC (, April 18, 2002.

Do you have any idea what your soil temperature is?

At a 41 degree soil temp the emergence period is 42 days. At a 50 degree soil temp the emergence period is 16.7 days. At a 59 degree soil temp the emergence period is 9.7 days. At a 68 degree soil temp the emergence period is 6.2 days. At a 77 degree soil temp the emergence period is 5 days. At an 86 degree soil temp the emergence period is just 4.5 days. Above 86 you start to lose days again.

It is frustrating as quickest emergence is with really warm soil, however the beets grow best in cooler weather.

I'm with the others, probably the seed is drying out or is planted too deeply.

Since a beet seed pod has several seeds in it just keep it moist and one should sprout and come up eventually. Might use a fungicide on the seed if it is untreated to prevent rot before sprouting.

-- Notforprint (, April 18, 2002.

Probably not, but beets are _extermely_ sensitive to certain herbicides, if you used some of the harsher ones in the past 4 years could cause problems. Others have talked about this being carried in with straw/multch from farm fields.

I agree with the 'planted too deep' theory, they need to be very shallow, kept moist, but not rotting wet, planted early, but not in too cold soil. I haven't grown more than a row in the garden years ago, but they grow thousands of acres of sugar beets near me - very tempermental crop.


-- paul (, April 18, 2002.

Beet seed needs tamped REAL good when you plant them. The number one reason for beets not coming up is poor contact with the soil. My great grandpa told me this. Soil in raised beds is usually fluffy and light, which is good, but be sure to firmly press the seeds once you cover them, about 1/4 inch of soil is about right.

-- vicki in NW OH (, April 18, 2002.

I never have problems with beets germinating. Several tricks are used. One is to soak the seeds overnight to soften them up a bit. And as is needed for slow germinating seeds, constant moisture is a must. The seedlings may be just a day away from emerging when one hot sunny day will dry the soil enough to kill them. If one is not right at hand with water for the two weeks or so needed to germinate, that one day is fatal, especially in a raised bed which would dry out sooner. Second trick is to place boards over the rows. A 5 or 6 inch board placed over the row will assure ample moisture at all times from planting to germination. And there is no need to worry about watching for the exact moment to remove the boards as the seedlings will grow without sunlight for some time. When you suddenly see that you already have 10 times the germination rate that you expected, remove the boards and you'll be off to your best harvest ever. I've used this method also for carrots for many years and no matter how thin the seeds are planted, there is still need for thinning. In fact, this year Jung's Seed Co. is advising this method of planting in the directions on their carrot packets. My carrots were planted on 9 April and have endured several record high temperatures in the upper 80s with fierce winds and beating sun. But after only 9 days, the seedlings are aleady beginning to show under the boards due to the constant moisture. The same was true for golden beets which are notorious for poor germination rates. Your garden may look like a repository of scrap lumber for awhile but the end results are worth it.

Happy Gardening

-- Martin Longseth (, April 18, 2002.

Notforprint, what are your sources for your germination tables? I have never seen a chart listing them. It looks most interesting, thanks.

-- Brian N. E. Ohio (, April 18, 2002.

I'm sorry, I meant to give credit. That particular chart is from "The New Seed Starters Handbook" by Nancy Bubel.

Knott's Handbook for Vegetable growers has a similar chart, but they do have slightly different emergence times and degree chart.

Sometimes online soil temperatures are hard to find. I find the one for Kansas and my location at Plan on asking Santa for my own soil thermometer this year.

The chart at this url, gives some optimum temperatures for germination.

From the web at:

"Germination and seedling growth are variable and slow at low soil temperatures. As temperature increases, germination and emergence become faster and more uniform. Generally, the time to emergence halves for every 5C increase between 5 and 20C. Percent emergence is also usually higher on warmer soils."

Here is an all around good vegetable site: It even tells storage and ferilizer requirements and how to get the most from irrigation.

-- Notforprint (, April 18, 2002.

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