Beetroot Cultivation and Farming in India – Expenses , Profits and Market

Beetroot farming is practiced in very few states in India. Though the vegetable is not considered exotic and is consumed widely in India, it is not one of the most popular vegetables. The average household consumes less than 2 KG of beetroot a month. That’s 24 KG of beetroot consumption a year per household. Unlike many other vegetables, like potatoes, onions, or tomatoes, the beet is not a table favorite in the Indian household. Gaining popularity though, beetroot is consumed as juice for its health benefits in India recently, mostly popular in cities and towns.

Beetroot has a lot of nutritional value and consuming it regularly helps improves your overall health, mental and physical. Research indicates that beetroot has cognitive benefits and reduces heart diseases. It has a wide range of vitamins and minerals apart from protein, fat, and carbs. 

When it comes to cultivation, it is commonly cultivated in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, and West Bengal, Tamil Nadu is increasing its production of beetroot gradually and many farmers are shifting from potatoes to beetroot due to an increase in price and output. Beetroot production in the country is increasing. 

NOTE: Sugarbeet is different from beetroot. Sugarbeet is used to manufacture sugar and has a high sugar content but beetroot cannot be used to extract sugar and is more of a table variety, though they are both from the same family. Sugarbeet is white while beetroot commonly is dark red. Sugarbeet is not widely cultivated in India, though there are a few farmers producing sugarbeet in Maharashtra where there is a factory setup for the extraction of sugar from sugarbeet.

Beetroot farming step by step.

Let us look at every factor possible in the cultivation of beetroot in India. What’s required, the kind of weather, soil conditions, water requirements, where you can sell, and a lot more but one step at a time.

  • Climate for  Cultivation : Beetroot is cultivated best during winters in India. Though it can be cultivated anywhere when the weather conditions have a temperature ranging from 18 degrees Celsius to 25-degree celsius with minimal rainfall, in India, its mostly cultivated during winters as a seasonal crop. Beetroot is a short-term crop, which has a growth cycle of up to 4 months from seed to harvest. During these 4 months, the weather shouldn’t be in the range of 19-25 degrees Celsius. Remember that this temperature requirement is only for the best yield. You could have a good yield from anywhere between 15 degrees to 30 degrees.  Areas like Tamil Nadu and Kerala have started producing beetroot and their weather conditions are pretty much feasible for moderate yield. The temperature in these areas is usually a bit more than 25 degrees during winter.
  • Ideal Soil for beetroot Cultivation: Beetroot like most other root crops loves loose soil. A lot of organic matter, well-draining, and porous soil is most preferred. Clay soil should be avoided and a ph level between 6 and 7 is most preferred. Avoid waterlogging conditions. Beetroot is almost always forgiving when it comes to soil conditions. Add organic matter, manure, or compost and you are almost always good to go. 
  • Varieties of Beetroot in India: The golden variety of beetroot is not a consumer favorite. You will have to go with the red varieties of beetroot which are more popular in India and consumed as vegetables. The common varieties cultivated in India are
    • Detroit Dark Red
    • Crimson Globe
    • Crosby Egyptian
    • Early Wonder
    • Ooty 1
    • Red Ball

      Each Variety is known for its characteristics. Some Yield faster than others while others are specifically grown in certain weather conditions. 
  • Propagation: Beetroot is propagated from seeds and precision sowing is recommended. Unfortunately,  Precision sowing machinery is not common in India, and hand sowing is practiced. Thinning once the plants reach a certain stage is practiced to prevent overcrowding. Overcrowding usually produces smaller roots and is not considered profitable for farmers.
  • Season: beetroot is farmed from mid-October to march. The coolers months in India are the best suited for Beetroot production. Beetroot can be grown in other months too but it is not as profitable and the yield may be considerably lower. The chances of pests and diseases are higher too when beetroot is grown during summer in most areas. 
  • Land Preparation: Land preparation should commence by mid-October if you intend to sow by the end of October. Leaving the ground plowed and exposed 2 weeks before sowing allows better aeration and pests to be exposed. Fungal infections in the soil can be removed by simply exposing them to the sun. Thoroughly till the land and free them from weed. at least 10 centimeters of the soil should be loosened. It is better if the soil is loosened up to 20 cm. Add organic matter post-tilling and till the second time to mix the organic matter to the soil well. Cow manure and Compost could be used for this purpose. 
  • Planting, Spacing, and Density: Sowing should be done manually. Broadcasting should be avoided. Broadcasting seeds usually requires more seeds than sowing each seed individually. This also means that the density of the plants is much higher and requires more thinning during the later stages. Plants are spaced 1.25 feet by 7 inches. The closer the plants, the smaller the beetroots are. The more space you leave there are chance of weeds can grow in the space between and also you are going to waste that much space. 7 inches may seem a lot but each average beetroots are 4 inches in diameter and you need 8 inches to house 2 beetroots. 7 inches is a bit less and most often just right. Too big and the beetroots tend to crack. 
  • Intercropping: A lot of people intercrop beetroots with various other winter vegetables. the common ones are carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers, and broccoli. Most of these plants have the same lifecycle and go from seed to harvest at almost the same time. The water requirements are the same and in the right season, they don’t attract many pests. they have almost the same fertilizer requirements too. Some farmers have found success by intercropping beetroots with brinjals, peas, onions, lettuce, and french beans. 
  • Irrigation: full irrigation is required once the seeds are sown. Periodic irrigation once in 3 days during sunny days and once in 5 days during cloudy weather is recommended. Beetroots love moist soil but not waterlogged conditions. Ensure that the soil is just moist and leave it to dry an inch or 2 on the surface before watering again.
  • Fertilizers: Beetroot is a wonderful crop that requires minimal to no fertilizers if you have already done the land preparation with enough organic matter and cow dung. Nevertheless, if your soil is depleted of nutrients, you may need to apply fertilizers. The usual fertilizers which are applied to beetroot include lesser content of nitrogen with more content of potash and phosphorus. 30 KG of Nitrogen, 80 kg of phosphorus, and 50 kg of Potash are usually applied per acre. Being a short-term crop, the application of fertilizers usually is required after the first month from sowing or when the plants are about 15 centimeters tall. The nitrogen content is relatively lesser due to its lesser foliage. 
  • Harvesting: The most important technique to better profit is during harvesting. Most farmers harvest their entire plot instead of phasing out the cultivation of beetroot. For better profit, it is recommended that you phase out the harvesting phase by picking only the most mature roots by the end of the 4th month and phase out the harvesting by picking the mature ones over the next few days. This way, you can also benefit from the better price and not flood the market with your product. 
  • Post-Harvest: Most farmers require that they sell their produce at the earliest post-harvest. Post-harvest storage requires a temperature of 4-6 degrees Celcius and this can only be done in a cold storage unit. Beetroots can be stored for up to 8 months if provided the right conditions. Beetroots are stored without leaves as leaves, though consumables are not a popular vegetable. 
  • Yield: Average yield of Beetroots range from 6-10 tonnes per acre. This could differ depending on the variety and soil conditions. Farmers have reported a far higher amount, almost double the normal, at 15-20 tonnes per acre. This is possible in some areas with the right climatic conditions only. Also, this can only be achieved with high-yield hybrid seeds.
  • Area of cultivation: Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra produce the most amount of beetroots in India. Other states like Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka Punjab do produce a small quantity of beetroot. beetroot loves cold weather and most northern states can cultivate this crop during winters. Unfortunately, it is not a very popular crop among farmers as the demand in large quantities does not exist. Also, most farmers have their own set of crops they produce and do not want to diverge into another product. A bit of awareness among farmers can help improve beetroot production. Some states like Tamil Nadu, though they do not have great weather to produce beetroot, have found beetroot cultivation profitable and possible. Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Salem, and the Nilgiris are cultivating beetroot in sufficient amounts for local consumption now and the agricultural university is supporting farmers in these ventures.
  • Market information: The market for beetroot is optimal. Most markets can take in 2-3 quintals a day while some may take a lot more. An average of 2 quintal production is easily marketed in most parts of the country and sales wouldn’t be a problem. Large markets in the south like Pollachi and Coimbatore can sell a ton or two every single day as the products are sold widely. Nevertheless, when harvesting beetroot, it is important to phase out the harvesting to multiple days and preferably weeks. Selling 1 quintal per day will usually increase the transportation cost but the chances of you wasting the product or selling it at a lower price are reduced.
  • Weed Control: Beetroot is a low-budget short-term crop. The one thing most farmers worry about when it comes to the cultivation of food produce is weeds. While they look ok and harmless, weeds can reduce the yield of food crops by 25 % if left unmanaged. This is the same with beetroots too. Controlling weed from the first week to the 2nd month is crucial for beetroots. Weeding also helps soil loosening, allowing the roots to get more space to grow which is extremely important for beetroots. Follow up weeding with fertilizers and earthing up to increase the weight and quality of the beetroots. You may need 3-4 weddings for beetroot throughout its lifecycle. 
  • Seed: One acre of beetroot cultivation will require approximately one kg of seeds. You may want to check the variety of seeds sown by anyone near you to find the right variety for your area. If no one is cultivating beetroots in your area, check with the nearest seed stores locally to find out which are the moving seeds in the area. Chances are you will find the most moving seeds and they would be the ones used by farmers near you. When beetroot farming is entirely new to your area, you may have to do a trial and error practice by checking out a variety of seeds to see which one is best suited for your weather conditions and soil. Also, check with your local agricultural university and find the best variety suited and what are seeds recommended. Chances are they will have the answer.

Yield and Profit per acre

When it comes to economics, Beetroot is profitable. The question is always how profitable. Remember this is a short-term crop. 4-5 months is the time it takes from seed to harvest. The irrigation requirement is low and the fertilizers are also minimal. There are very less pest and disease control measures. Below are the numbers from various farmers on how much they spent and how much they made with beetroot cultivation in one Acre.

Expenses for the cultivation of Beetroot

Land preparation2500
Cow Manure4000
Labour (Seed sowing to harvest)5000
Cost of seed 5000
Total Cost33500

The total cost involved for the cultivation of Beetroot per acre is approximately 33 Thousand 5 hundred rupees.

The total yield per acre is approximately 80 quintals or 8 tonnes of beetroot. With an average price of 10 Rs per kilo, Which is the lowest in the market, the farmer can expect 80,000 Rs per acre from beetroot cultivation. Remember that this is not the profit. When you reduce the Expenses of 33500 from the 80,000 Rs you would remain with 46500 Rs as pure profit from beetroot farming

Note that the amount you have estimated is 10 rs per kilo (Selling price) chances are some markets offer you a higher price of up to 30 Rs per kilo depending on the season. If the price is good, you can surely make a lot more. One lakh per acre from beetroot farming is possible and many farmers have achieved this mark.

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