By Tyler Grove
MOORHEAD, Minn. – With planting commencing the week of April 12th, 98% of acreage was planted by May 16th, wet and snow conditions (up to 8” in the north) held planting back a few days which resumed and wrapped up by the end of May. The average planting date for the 2017 crop was May 2nd, four days ahead of our 10-year average planting date. Seedbed conditions were better than average in all districts, a pleasant surprise considering extreme wet conditions last fall in our northern districts (East Grand Forks, Minnesota and Drayton, North Dakota). Overall, drier soil conditions with decreased precipitation compared to last year warranted no major concerns of root diseases or insect pressure.
Weed control progressed nicely with some newer areas showing new resistant weed arrivals, primarily waterhemp, and common ragweed. Cercospora Leafspot has shown increased resistance to available fungicides in recent years. We have witnessed two high pressure Cercospora years in a row, with concerns once again this year. Growers were armed with a list of Cercospora management notes and a spray program consisting of tank mixes, fungicide rotations, and increased water volumes to best offset this damaging leaf disease, and overall control was deemed good.
A comprehensive recap of Michigan Sugar Company's 2017 sugarbeet growing season.
By Jim Ruhlman
BAY CITY, Mich. - Michigan Sugar Company’s 2017 crop got off to a slow start with much of the planting taking place in late April and early May. Late April rains caused some significant crusting which affected stands in some areas of the growing region. The crop matured nicely through May and mid-June, but very heavy rains in late June proved to be too much for 15% of the crop. While very few acres were abandoned, root disease took its toll on the affected acres.
Fast forward to late August and the entire month of September and our entire crop was desperate for rainfall. The drought-like conditions during this timeframe were too much for our crop to produce abundant yields. Our average grower sugar came in at a healthy 18.5%, but our yield was a disappointing 25.5 tons per acre average. Cercospora Leafspot continues to be a big threat to the sugarbeet crop in Michigan, but growers did a fantastic job in controlling the disease through timely and frequent applications of fungicide.
By Tom Knudsen
WAHPETON, N.D. - Sugarbeet seed issue took place March 30-31st and April 3-5th. The planting level for the 2017 crop was set at a range of 1.25 to 1.35 acres per share of stock. Planting was underway the second week of April. By mid-April, 13,000 acres (0.18 acres per share) had been planted. By the end of April, 58,000 acres had been planted. Planting was essentially completed by May 15th when 95,000 acres (1.32 acres per share) were planted. Rainfall was timely for the planting of the 2017 crop which led to good germination and emergence. There was a significant freeze period the mornings of April 27th, 28th, and 29th when temperatures dropped to the upper 20’s. Little damage was noted on emerged and subterranean seedlings for the most part. Approximately 1,000 acres were replanted out of the total 95,000 acres planted this past season. Replant was primarily due to wind, crust and, to a lesser extent, frost.
Crop samples in July indicated another very good crop was in the works. That was confirmed a month later when the August samples were taken. The ag staff put the yield at 31.9 tons per acre. The initial tentative corral on harvested acres was set at 15 percent; meaning 85 percent of the acres were eligible for harvest. That number was ultimately reduced in two stages to five percent.
Preharvest was underway Monday, September 11th. Main harvest commenced October 4th. Harvest 2017 was a lengthy drawn out affair due to intermittent warm temperatures which required numerous shutdowns. Harvest ended November 1st. Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative growers harvested 90,172 acres and delivered a total of 2,909,615 tons of sugarbeets. The crop averaged 17.0 percent sugar content, 89.4 percent purity, had a tare of 2.5 percent and yielded 32.3 tons per acre.
By Rebecca Tokariuk
TABER, Alberta, Canada – Planting began in Alberta on April 27th, and carried on until about May 10th. Seeding was held off due to company negotiations with the worker’s Union. 27,000 acres were planted, with approximately 350 being re-seeded due to wind damage and herbicide carryover.
By Duane Peters
SIDNEY, Mont. – 2017 started off with drier than expected soil moisture. As growers started to plant, we all realized that most fields would need to be irrigated to provide moisture to have equal emergence. We were very thankful for our irrigation project. Irrigation water was available and many growers irrigated. The crop had very uneven emergence due to field dryness. As spring turned to summer, the irrigation became very important. We had a drier than normal year. Rainstorms were far and few between. We were three inches below normal for the months of June, July, and August.
Disease levels were very minimal due to dry weather conditions. Sidney Sugars started an early harvest this year, and that went very well. Harvest started around September 12th. Full harvest started on October 1st. We completed harvest on October 26th. Yield was 31.25 ton per acre and sugar was 17.99%. Overall, we considered this a very successful growing year. Beets appear to be storing well for the above normal winter temps. We expect slice to finish about mid-February.
By Todd Geselius
RENVILLE, Minn. – The 2017 crop at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMBSC) turned out to be a record despite issues along the way. Planting began in early to mid-April but was then delayed until the first part of May due to rain. Generally good growing conditions continued through June and early July with the first Cercospora Leafspot (CLS) fungicide applications going on around July 4th. The normally dry conditions in late July and early August were replaced with timely rainfall which resulted in exceptional beet growth during this period.
Ron Tharp, Ag Manager for Spreckels Sugar, recaps the Imperial Valley's 2017 growing season.
By Ron Tharp
BRAWLEY, Calif. – Planting began the first week in September with above normal temperatures. There were more hand line sprinklers used again this year to get around the high temperatures this planting season. Some growers held off hoping the weather would cool down. By the middle of the month planting was in full swing. The early planted fields had some reduced stands and we had more replants due to the heat. The later planted fields were coming up with good stands. Planting was completed by the third week of October.
Jerry Darnell, Vice President of Agriculture for Western Sugar Cooperative, recaps their 2017 growing season.
By Jerry Darnell
DENVER, Colo. – The 2017 growing season started off ahead of normal in all Western Sugar regions except for the Lovell, Wyoming area which had above normal precipitation during planting. The growing region had a full supply of irrigation water. The cooperative had minimal replant and abandoned acres in all areas. Sugarbeet diseases and pests were very minimal this year across the cooperative.
Above normal temperatures in October caused the sugarbeet harvest to be delayed for an extended period of time. There were several days that no harvest was allowed because of the warm soil temperatures that would not allow for a long term storable sugarbeet in the pile. Ambient and soil temperatures finally cooled and full harvest was allowed to resume at the end of October. Early harvest started on August 28th in Billings, Montana and harvest was completed on November 22nd in Fort Morgan, Colorado.
Yields in the Montana region averaged 36.6 tons per acre, with a 17.41% sugar. Lovell, Wyoming averaged 27.9 tons per acre with a 17.20% sugar. Nebraska averaged 31.2 tons with a 17.45% sugar and Colorado 35.4 tons with a 17.15% sugar. Sugarbeet processing is scheduled to be completed in late February/early March.
Mike Greear, president of Wyoming Sugar Company, recaps their 2017 growing season.
By Mike Greear
WORLAND, WY – 2017 started off very wet and as a result over half the crop was planted late. On average the crop was 10 to 14 days behind. Overall, we had great stands and with good weather in June, July and August and the crop tried to catch up, but it just did not get to our new “normal”.
We had planned an earlier than normal harvest to mitigate harvest and pile risk; however, just like last year, Mother Nature had other plans and rain delayed our start up yet again. Nonetheless, we were able to start major harvest activates on the 28th and despite a lot of mud 100% of the crop was harvested and pile.
The company-wide average for the crop was 30.3 tons per acre and 17.97% sugar. Overall, not a bad crop, but we have come to expect higher tonnage.
After harvest, we had great weather for storing beets and crop stored well. Nearly all our remaining beets are on forced-air ventilation and we do not expect much pile loss. The campaign is slated to finish in late January.
Sugar producers in North Dakota and Minnesota had a much better 2017 in regards to Cercospora defense, compared to 2016.
By Mike Spieker | Photos by Mohamed Khan.
Editor’s Note: In the November/December 2016 issue, we recapped the severity of Cercospora during the 2016 growing season throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. In 2017, the disease was much less significant in some areas. Several factors played into that result, such as management and/or weather. In this article, we cover Cercospora’s effects on the 2017 growing season from northern North Dakota to southern Minnesota.
Editor & General Manager of The Sugarbeet Grower