By Mike Metzger | Vice President of Agriculture & Research
Sugarbeet seed issue for the 2019 crop took place April 1st through the 5th. The planting level for the 2019 crop was set at a range of 1.40 to 1.42 acres per share of stock (101,080 to 102,524 acres). Planting of the crop started Thursday, April 25th. Approximately 40 percent of the crop was planted within the first 10 days of May, and 89 percent planted by May 16th. Due to saturated soil conditions in the southern-most growing district, it took three more weeks to plant the remaining 11 percent of the crop. Total planted acres were GIS-verified to be 101,590 acres or 1.41 acres per share. Timely rainfall and warmer temperatures promoted the germination and emergence of the young crop, resulting in very favorable stand establishment. Replanted acres for 2019 was primarily due to crusting and, to a lesser extent, frost. A total of approximately 1,000 acres were replanted for the 2019 crop, 500 acres below the 10-year average.
Plagued by continued rainfall, the 2019 July yield samples, which are the first of three sampling periods, revealed an estimated current root yield of 6.7 tons per acre (TPA). This is the lightest collective sample in the last five growing seasons and was 1.2 TPA below the 10-year average. With very good stand counts, the Ag Staff released an initial crop estimate of 27.3 TPA. This yield estimate was reduced to 26.65 TPA after both sets of August yield samples were evaluated, producing an estimated harvest volume of 2.7 million tons. The August samples also offered a preview of the 2019 crop’s quality. Sugar percentage was recorded as 13.84 percent and purity at 89.60 percent. This was the highest recorded average sample purity experienced in the last 25 years, and was indicative of the high plant populations, 49,500 plants per acre, and the Cooperative’s enhanced focus on sugarbeet fertility management.
Early harvest began Monday, August 19th, with main harvest commencing on Friday, October 4th. After above average rainfall during the latter part of the summer, harvest 2019 came in three abbreviated periods, segmented between rain events, and lingering well into November. Including the tons lifted during early harvest, only 36 percent of the anticipated total volume had been delivered by October 16th. By Halloween, only 66 percent of the crop had been harvested year to date.
Harvest ended on Monday, November 18th spanning over 91 days. After a long, hard fight, MDFC growers harvested 93,264 acres and delivered a total of 2,106,272 tons of sugarbeets – 71 percent of the anticipated volume. The crop averaged 16.08 percent sugar content, 89.19 percent purity, had a tare of 4.00 percent and yielded 22.58 tons per harvested acre
Editor & General Manager of The Sugarbeet Grower