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Nebraska 4-H Launches Special Agronomy Project with Sugar Beets

Nebraska 4-H Launches Special Agronomy Project with Sugar Beets

By Scout Nelson

This year, Nebraska 4-H and the Nebraska Extension have chosen sugar beets as the star of their 2024 Special Agronomy Project, engaging young agriculturists across the state in cultivating this significant crop.

Sugar beets, primarily grown in the western regions of Nebraska, will now see a wider range of young farmers participating from various parts of the state, including areas where they are not typically grown.

Laurie Ziterkopf, a Nebraska Extension Master Gardener, explains that participants in the project will need to bring three beet roots and some leaves for display at their local fairs.

These exhibits will be evaluated based on their fidelity to the variety, even though the beets will still be immature during fair season. This aspect of the project aims to mimic the real-life agricultural practices where farmers assess the sugar content of their beets mid-season.

The project is not just about growing beets; it's a comprehensive educational experience. Michael Relka, an agronomist with Western Sugar in Scottsbluff, noted that sugar beets have been a staple in western Nebraska for over a century, processed locally into sugar.

His advice for participants includes planting their beet seeds in April to ensure optimal growth and sugar content by harvest time.

Additionally, this initiative provides an opportunity for new and returning growers to engage with the agricultural community. The Special Garden and Agronomy Project Seed Pick-Up Day is scheduled for April 23 at the Nebraska Extension Scotts Bluff County office, where participants can collect sugar beet seeds along with other seeds from past projects.

These seeds span a decade of agronomy projects and include a variety of crops from Striped Armenian Cucumber to Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil, showcasing the diversity and continuity of Nebraska’s agricultural education efforts.

By involving young people in agriculture through projects like these, Nebraska Extension 4-H hopes to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of agricultural practices, as well as inspire the next generation of farmers and agronomists.

This project not only teaches the technical aspects of growing a specific crop but also integrates participants into a broader community dedicated to agricultural sustainability and innovation.

Photo by: gettyimages-luiscarlosjimenezi

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Categories: Nebraska, Crops, Sugar Beets

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