I was checking out the varieties mentioned -- all three except Golden was listed at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Their culture tip for beets may have uncovered the problem, at least in my garden:
Beets should be grown in a light loam of pH 6.5 to 7.0. If soil pH is below 6, sprinkle limestone or wood ashes in the row as you plant, otherwise yield will be seriously impaired.
This should mean beets would do very well for jal and Stella who have both mentioned having alkaline soil in their garden.
I'm going to need to set up an especially higher pH raised bed as my garden tends on the acid side. Hm.. What else can I plant there? Peas? Carrots? I suppose Swiss chard too -- those didn't do well for me this year either....
. On the other hand, shouldn't they grow well -- pH wise -- where peas and lettuce grow well? I suppose could plan my next beet planting in those beds.