In contrast to cereals, maize and oilseed rape, sugar beet is a biennial crop, i.e. the plant does not reach the reproductive, seed building stage until the second year. A taproot forms in the first year that provides the source of energy for the flowering plant in the second year. Under certain weather conditions, usually following a cold period, some plants enter into the reproductive phase in the first year itself and develop shoots. This phenomenon is called bolting. If these shoots produce seed they form a weedy form of beets. Moreover, these shoots disrupt harvesting.
Low susceptibility to bolting is thus an important criterion in the selection and breeding of efficient sugar beet varieties.
Prior to delivery to the factory the harvested beets can be pre-washed in order to reduce the amount of fertile soil being transported away from the field. However, breeding plays a significant role in the problem of soil retention on the beets.
In the course of selection attention is paid to the root of the beet. A beet that has shallow grooves is desired type. When grown on clay soils or harvested under moist conditions, the more or less smooth contours significantly reduce the amount of soil retained on the beets.