There were direct relationships between inoculum density of Heterodera schachtii Schm. (nematode population density), initial soil temperature, the growth of sugarbeets in the greenhouse under controlled temperatures, and nematode populations. Heterodera schachtii was least pathogenic on plants inoculated at 6 wk of age and most pathogenic on plants grown from inoculated germinated seed (0 wk of age). In the field, H. schachtii was least pathogenic on sugarbeets grown at an initial soil temperature of 6 C and most pathogenic on those grown at an initial soil temperature of 24 C. The growth period for sugarbeets at the different soil temperatures was determined by heat units; since penetration of sugarbeet roots by H. schachtii larvae is accelerated at soil temperatures above 10 C, each hour-degree ahove 10 C was counted as one effective heat unit (HU). Using this guideline it was determined that root weight depressions in the greenhouse, for each degree-unit population (HU-UP) where unit population = one larvae/g soil, were 0.052, 0.09, 0.12, and 0.17 mg at initial soil temperatures of 6, 12, 18, and 24 C, respectively. Root weight depressions were 0.28, 0.23, 0.15, and 0.086 mg when plants were inoculated at 0, 2, 4, and 6 wk of age. Key words: sugarbeet cyst nematode, heat units, unit populations, root weight depression, geographical differences, sugarbeet yields.