Carew, H. John Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
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Beta vulgaris, a cool-season biennial of Mediterranean origin belonging to the plant order Caryophyllales (Centrospermales). The red or garden beet (see illustration), also known as the beetroot, is grown primarily for its fleshy root; in addition, it is grown for its leaves. Both the root and the leaves can be cooked fresh or canned as a vegetable. The so-called seed is a fruit containing two to six true seeds. Detroit Dark Red strains predominate, especially in the United States. Beets are only slightly tolerant of acid soils and have a high boron requirement. Cool weather favors high yields of dark red roots. Exposure to temperatures of 4–10°C (39–50°F) for 2 weeks or more encourages undesirable seed-stalk development. Roots are harvested when they are 2.5–7.5 cm (1–3 in.) in diameter, generally 60–80 days after planting. Russia, Poland, Germany, France, and the United States (New York, Wisconsin, Texas, and Oregon) are the most important areas for beet production. See also: Caryophyllales; Horticultural crops; Sugarbeet
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