ASSBT Biennial Meeting – Feb. 24 – Feb 27, 2025 in Long Beach, CA
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Changing the sugar beet cropping system in Iran, from spring to autumn in order to increase water productivity.

AGHAEI, MAJID*¹, MASOUD HONARVAR² and MOHSEN BAZRAFSHAN³

¹Marvdasht Sugar Beet Factory, ²Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran, 1477893855, ³Sugar Beet Research Department, Fars Agricultural and Natural Resource Research and Education Center, AREEO, Shiraz, Iran

Abstract

Sugar beet is one of the industrial products of the agricultural sector that plays an important role in providing sugar to the household food basket in Iran. Sugar beet production has a history more than one century in our country; Iran is located in semi-arid area with 250 mm annual precipitation. Climatic conditions of Iran are in a manner that sugar beet can be cultivated in either spring planting or autumn planting. All spring sugar beet cultivation should be irrigated. Water is already the most limiting factor in sugar beet cultivation; it is necessary to take decreased water consumption and increased water productivity in sugar beet production. Autumn planting of sugar beet as compared to its spring cultivation demands less application of water in semi-arid region such as Iran. The water use efficiency for spring and autumn sugar beet cultivation is about 600 and 1000 gram of sugar per m3 of water used respectively. Therefore, cultivation of sugar beet in autumn is considered as a better choice to be benefited from autumn and winter precipitation and escaping from water deficit crises. Autumn cultivation of sugar beet is one of the strategies for increasing sugar beet production with minimum amount of water consumed due to the use of autumn and winter precipitation and avoiding the need for irrigation in very dry summer air. According to sugar beet syndicate annual report (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018), the total autumn sugar beet cultivation were 26451, 16280, 12054, 15028 ha respectively. The average of sugar beet yield was 53, 57, 55, 65 ton/ha and sugar content was 14.74%, 14.85%, 13.89% and 14.57% respectively. Autumn sugar beet cultivation began since 1963 in Khozestan province and now due to the change in the cropping system it has spread to other provinces like Fars, Golestan, Kermanshah and Ilam. Considering the unique climatic conditions of Iran, development of autumn sugar beet cultivation will be caused a revolution in agriculture, help increase employment in agriculture and industry, considerably more produced white sugar and enhancement of water productivity. Therefore, the sustainability of this strategic product is of great importance for ensuring its supply and the partial sustainability of Iran’s food security.

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