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There are several key differences between varieties of beetroot. They include:
  • When they crop - early, mid or late season
     
  • Taste and texture
     
  • Shape and colour
     
  • Disease resistance and which conditions suit them best

ALTO


Alto Beetroot variety
Alto is different from traditional globe beetroot because it is shape like a long cylinder. As it grows the top part of the edible root appears above ground. If you want to keep it in the ground through to early winter you will need to earth up around the root.

Alto is an F1 variety which means saved seeds will not come true to the parent. The taste is sweet and the texture smooth. It is grown and cooked exactly in the same way as other beetroot.

BOLTARDY


Boltardy Beetroot variety
This is the variety we use each year as our beetroot mainstay. It is hardy throughout the UK and produces delicious rounded roots with a deep scarlet colour. The shape of the bulbs is very regular and both taste and texture is excellent.

Boltardy is resistant to bolting which can occur when the water supply is irregular. Bolting results in woody and bitter roots. If you want an earlier than normal crop of beetroot then this is the one to choose. Sow under cloches two weeks earlier than normal.

Boltardy was awarded an Award of Garden Merit by the RHS in 1993 (reconfirmed in 2016) and is the most popular variety of beetroot grown in the UK. Seeds of this variety are widely available from garden centres and online stores. This is an open-pollinated variety and seeds saved will come true to type (see note at top about about saving beetroot seeds).

CHIOGGIA


The full name of this variety is Barbabietola Di Chioggia. If you are looking for something different then give this variety a chance. The root is pink on the outside with rings of pink and white in the middle.

Whole Chioggia beetroots
Two whole Chioggia beetroots

The coloured rings disappear to a degree when cooked but this variety looks superb finely sliced raw in salads where its colouring really counts. Be aware though that some people have an adverse reaction when eating raw beetroot and it does taste rather bitter.

Cooked Chioggia bedetroot
Cooked Chioggia beetroot

The above picture shows a Chioggia beetroot which has been lightly boiled for 20 minutes. It is not quite cooked through although very edible. Even at this stage it can be seen that the outer rings are beginning to disappear.

From personal experience we can recommend this variety for roasting, simply add them to the roast potatoes as they cook, delicious. This is an open-pollinated variety and seeds saved will come true to type (see note here about about saving beetroot seeds).

PABLO


A more recent variety which was also awarded an AGM by the RHS in 1993, and reconfirmed in 2016. Pablo has good resistance to bolting, very hardy, this variety produces a very sweet and attractive, rounded root. Seeds of this variety are widely available from garden centres and online stores. This is an F1 variety and seeds saved will not come true to type.

RED ACE


Developed by the American company Alf Christianson Seed Co. in 1981, Red Ace are true to their name and produce deep red beetroots. This is a globe variety and produces very uniform nearly circular beetroot. It does well in conditions where other varieties might not succeed and is resistant to bolting.

The roots are free from fibre and have a melt in the mouth texture, the taste is very pleasantly sweet. From seed sowing to fully grown beetroot takes approximately two months. In our opinion its as good Boltardy and possibly better.

Seeds for this variety are not common in garden centres and probably the best way to buy them is through online seed merchants. This is an F1 variety and seeds saved will not come true to type. Reconfirmed RHS AGM in 2016.

SOLO


Solo is a monogerm variety (produces only one seedling per seed). Although this claimed by many to be an advantage because it reduces thinning, it seems that most gardeners don't really care! After all it only takes a few seconds seconds to pull up a seedling.

Definite positives for this variety is that it produces lovely looking, round red beets. They cook well. One of the sweetest, it is ideal for slicing raw into a salad. British bred, it gained an RHS AGM in 2005 which was reconfirmed in 2016. This is an F1 variety and seeds saved will not come true to type.

WODAN


Wodan was first awarded an RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1993 and this was reconfirmed in 2016. It's primary quality is that the roots can be left in the ground longer than most other varieties without taking on a woody texture.

Wodan is a variety which suits the "forgetful" gardener. Not only does is stay edible for longer but it also can be grown very close together (or more truthfully "I forgot to thin the seedlings") with good results.

Taste is rated highly, slightly less sweet than some varieties but with a full beetroot flavour. The roots are large golf ball sized and shaped with a deep red flesh. A very reliable cropper each year which can be harvested at full size or as baby beetroot.

This variety produces a crop about two weeks earlier than average. It grows equally well in open ground, raised beds and containers. This is an F1 variety and seeds saved will not come true to type.


COMMENTS / QUESTIONS LEFT BY OUR READERS

Sometimes our readers ask specific questions which are not covered in the main article above. Our
Beetroot comment / question and answer page
lists their comments, questions and answers. At the end of that page there is also a form for you to submit any new question or comment you have.