Beets must grow rapidly to mature early and to develop the highest quality. To accomplish these purposes there must be an ample supply of soluble plant food, especially of nitrogen Fresh or green stable manures should never be applied a short time before planting, because they encourage a rank growth of top at the sacrifice of root; but rotten cow and horse manure may be used freely. Henderson recommends 75 to 100 tons an acre, while more recent intensive growers use 40 to 50 tons an acre. Some succeed with half this quantity, supplementing with commercial fertilizers. From 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of a high-grade fertilizer can generally be applied at a profit, with an additional top dressing of nitrate of soda. The New Jersey Station found as much as 800 pounds of nitrate an acre could be profitably used during the season. At each application 100 to 200 pounds may be used by distributing along the rows or sowing broadcast when the leaves are dry. The first and largest application should be made in about three weeks from sowing, making additional dressings as may seem necessary.
Thorough tillage is essential to large yields and high quality. The beet is a surface feeder, so that shallow cultivation should be practiced. The Garrahan hand weeder is a valuable tool for weeding and thinning beets when the discarded plants are not to be reset.