Farmer 101: Tips for Growing and Processing Beets

When it comes to growing beets in Mzansi, it’s all about soil and climate. During a recent episode of Food For Mzansi’s Gather To Grow sessions on Twitter, seasoned farmers unpacked growing and processing these popular vegetables.

During the session, Devrol Legodi gives an overview of several bootroot varieties and explains why she prefers dark red Detroit beets and 1105 star. She also explains why timing and sunlight are key to growing this culture successfully.

As for harvesting, Kgotlello Roda explains that beets can be difficult to harvest when the ground is hard and dry. Additionally, climate change and pests, she says, are significant impediments to growing beets.

“I plant under shady nets. The most insects I have encountered [were] grasshoppers and my garden is full of moles. I had to take steps to make sure the moles didn’t enter my garden because they were going to eat my beets from below.

Have you ever thought of turning beets into by-products? The session also features agro-processor Edward Kgarose, who encourages farmers to be innovative and consider agro-processing options.

“Try to find out what products you can produce from your beets. I know you are not agro-processors, but just try to have a product that you can produce from your beet.

“You can do a lot of things when we talk about innovation. Beetroot is a skin care product, so this is an opportunity.

Kgarose also stresses the importance for farmers to have a backup strategy in case of poorly performing markets. It encourages farmers to diversify and look for other products they can produce.

In this edition, industry experts also discuss:

  • Operation tools;
  • Different soil types and pH levels in which beets thrive; and
  • Navigating climate change as a beet grower.

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