Sugar Beet and Zinc Deficiency in Navy Bean April 01, 2001
John Moraghan, Department of Soil Science and Ken Grafton, Department of Plant Sciences NDSU, Fargo, ND
It is widely recognized that common beans after fallow or sugarbeets are more likely to have reduced yields due to zinc (Zn) deficiency than are beans following corn or small grains. A navy bean crop in the Buxton area after a 1999 sugarbeet crop yielded only 0 to 2 bags/acre over approximately 700 acres. Although the cause of the crop failure is not known, there is a need to determine if sugarbeet growers should increase their application of Zn fertilizer when beans follow a sugarbeet crop.
Table 1. Seed-Zn concentration and health of Voyager navy bean
Zn SO4-Zn Fertilizer lb/acre
Seed Zn ppm
Zn Deficiency Symptoms
In earlier studies we showed that Zn-efficient and Zn-inefficient navy bean genotypes in breeding programs can be separated on the basis of their seed-Zn concentrations. A survey of grower navy bean fields in the Red River Valley was conducted in 2000 to determine if seed-Zn concentration was reduced by an antecedent sugarbeet crop. Also, a greenhouse trial was conducted to relate seed-Zn concentration to severity of Zn deficiency in navy bean.
The relation of seed-Zn concentration to the occurrence of Zn deficiency in navy bean is shown in Table 1. Seed-Zn concentrations less than approximately 15 to 20 ppm indicate that Zn-deficiency reduced seed yields.
Navy bean seed from a total of 47 sites was obtained prior to commercial harvest in September 2000. At 33 sites, sugarbeet was the preceding crop, while small grains was the crop at the remaining sites.
Table 2. Previous crop and zinc (Zn) concentration of navy bean seed.
Number of sites
Seed Zn, ppm (mean)
Soil DTPA-Zn, ppm (mean)
The type of preceding crop had no effect on the seed-Zn status (Table 2). Growers frequently apply Zn fertilizer to edible beans in the Red River Valley. With the exception of seed from three sites, all seed samples had Zn concentrations outside the deficiency range for this crop.
Many fields require application of Zn fertilizer for dry bean production in the Red River Valley. Current grower practices appear effective at preventing Zn deficiency in beans. However, bean cultivars especially susceptible to Zn deficiency should not be planted or released in this region.