Reports from All North American Beet Regions
Amalgamated Sugar Company
Early harvest results of the 2013 crop pointed to a large crop. These results were somewhat surprising due to the difficult 2013 springtime weather. There were 82,512 acres replanted — 44% of the planted acres. A 3% voluntary overplant was allowed in 2013, but not all of the allowed overplant was planted. There were 186,321 acres contracted with 186,176 acres planted. There were 712 acres lost due to environmental conditions and lack of water in some areas where storage water was short.
Temperatures during the growing season were conducive for good yields. With that comes higher mineralization in the soil, resulting in lower sugar contents. Early harvest sugar content was 14.21% in Mini-Cassia and 15.00% in the Twin Falls district, both of which were below average for early harvest.
The 2013 Amalgamated crop set another yield record of 36.3 tons per acre. However, the sugar content was a disappointing 15.87 %. Harvest was ideal, and the beets were put into the piles in good condition. — John Schorr
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American Crystal Sugar Company
Preparations for the 2013 American Crystal crop started during the fall of 2012. The wet fall disrupted tillage operations and seedbed preparation for the spring of 2013. A substantial percentage of the fall fertilizer applications did not get completed, either.
Spring planting was delayed due to wet field conditions. About 70% of the crop was planted between May 14 and May 21, with the final acres planted on June 20. Cool and wet conditions slowed germination, emergence and late-spring and early summer growth. Hot, dry weather and drought conditions slowed growth in late July and August over much of the growing area.
Weed control was very good in the northern factory districts, but more widespread waterhemp resistance to glyphosate has developed in the Moorhead district. Spread of resistant weeds remains a threat to successful continued use of Roundup Ready® varieties.
The primary root disease problem in 2013 was Fusarium. Its distribution has spread northward, and use of resistant varieties is much more important in the Crookston and Hillsboro districts as well as Moorhead.
Root aphids caused significant losses over a much greater area of the Red River Valley in 2013 than in 2012. Aphid infestations were observed in all factory districts, with yield losses varying from slight to severe, depending on locale. Root aphid-impacted varieties store very, very poorly in long-term storage. Root maggot populations were moderate to severe in historical problem areas. Maggot control was good to excellent in all but a few fields.
A much warmer and wetter September allowed crop growth to progress at a much greater-than-normal rate. Ideal September growing conditions and lack of a canopy killing frost until the last week of October resulted in a higher than expected average yield of just over 25 tons per acre. Sugar content averaged out at a disappointing 17.3%.
The Crystal harvest wrapped up on November 14, with very difficult digging conditions in the southern Red River Valley. A few hundred acres were left unharvested due to extremely wet conditions. — Allan Cattanach
Southern Alberta enjoyed a record-breaking sugarbeet crop in 2013. Growers delivered 668,087 metric tons (736,439 short tons) from 24,153 acres, for a per-acre average yield of 27.7 metric tons (30.5 short tons). Sugar content averaged 18.5% in 2013, compared to 19.3% in the 2012 Alberta beet crop.
Field operations were slightly delayed during the spring of 2013 in some areas due to cooler conditions and snow cover in fields further east. Early spring field work and fertilizer application was necessary due to the adverse field conditions experienced by producers in the fall of 2012. Notwithstanding, some areas were planted on schedule, while others were planted slightly later than usual. Planting dates ranged from April 6 to mid-May.
Adverse weather events during important times of crop development were detrimental to overall crop health and yield on affected acres. Intense windstorms from the north and west on a few occasions forced 1,350 acres of replants. In addition, multiple hailstorms in late June and early July tore a path of destruction through close to 5,000 acres. Some fields experienced up to 100% defoliation.
There was a small presence of plant disease and insect pressure in southern Alberta in 2013. Leaf diseases such as
Phoma and root diseases such as Rhizoctonia and Aphanomyces were observed by field staff during the growing season. Insecticide was sprayed on most acres to control flea beetle populations. Severe cutworm damage on a
few acres led to a replant scenario for some growers.
Beet harvest commenced on October 1 and was completed by October 28 — undoubtedly one of the shortest and most successful harvests on record. Precipitation in mid-October caused very minor setbacks to the harvest process. Rain caused muddy conditions at beet receiving stations and in fields, which led to brief shutdowns at all stations. In general, though, harvest conditions were excellent in 2013.
Overall, fall soil moisture carryover, slightly cooler then warming conditions in the early spring, and warmer drier conditions leading up to harvest, created ideal conditions for the 2013 beet crop and record-breaking tonnage in the area.
It can be said with confidence that the 2013 growing season was a great success in the north! — Jay Anderson
Michigan Sugar Company
What a difference from year to year! In 2012, growers at Michigan Sugar Company planted 60% of our crop in March and were 100% planted by April 12, 2012. In 2013, Mother Nature was not so kind, and growers planted only 8,508 acres in all of March and April. Our first field was planted on April 4; but with rainfall on 20 different days in April, it was impossible to get anything planted early. The range of precipitation was from 6.0 to 8.0 inches for the month!
We were very fortunate to get a narrow window of opportunity in early May to plant nearly every acre of beets by May 15. The dry conditions in early May were followed by wetter-than-normal conditions in late May. The crop emerged, and by June 15 we had 161,199 certified acres planted and growing.
It was an up-and-down summer with weather patterns before the August dry spell arrived. The drier-thannormal late summer, along with the late-planted crop, influenced our decision to delay harvest from early September to September 17 — a two-week delay!
Some abandonment of acres occurred along the way, and once harvest started on September 17, we had 159,881 acres to harvest. With the shorter-than-normal early delivery season, we received only 18% of our crop early. We opened all piling grounds for long-term storage on Monday, October 21. We had 10 great days for harvest with good harvest conditions and good beet temperatures. Our record delivery day occurred on October 25; and when the first rain of the harvest season arrived on October 31, we had 3.2 million tons, or 78% of our crop, harvested.
Unfortunately, it took us the entire month of November to get the last million tons of beets due to cold temperatures and persistent rains. The last load arrived on December 3.
We did harvest a very high-quality crop in spite of the late planting season and challenging finish to harvest. Here are the numbers:
• Acres Harvested — 159,805
• Tons Received — 4,173,009
• Average Yield — 26.11 Tons
• Grower % Sugar — 18.34
• Grower Clear Juice Purity (CJP) — 95.96
The 13 different Maus operations of Michigan growers harvested 1,122,460 tons (27% of our total) directly to the factory flumes or to one of four different stacker piles (264,392 tons).
Michigan Sugar did store approximately 4,500 tons of beets in four different field piles (clamps) along grower fields as a study. Recovery of these beets took place on December 17-20.
As with every crop year, there were challenges. But overall, we are very happy with a good quality crop and a successful finish to harvest in early December. — Paul Pfenninger
Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative
Minn-Dak growers began planting the 2013 crop the second week in May following a cold, wet April. By the end of May, nearly the entire crop was planted. Biotech (Roundup Ready®) sugarbeets were planted for the sixth year on all of the acreage, and weed control was very good all season long.
Very heavy rains impacted the northern portions of the Minn-Dak growing area during the latter part of June. Despite that, very little acreage was abandoned — although yield potential was reduced significantly. The months of July and August were good for crop growth but were essentially dry. By the end of August, leaf wilting was evident in the lighter soils.
Based on reduced projected yields due to the late planting, the start of harvest was pushed back to September 11. Although moisture was scarce in July and August, September and the early part of October saw weekly one inch rains in nearly all areas. That moisture pushed the crop to a new plateau in terms of tonnage but diluted sugar content. Fields went from being dry to dangerously saturated.
A total of 2,973,827 tons were harvested from 117,187 acres. The crop averaged 25.4 tons per acre with a 16.4% sugar content, an 88.9% purity and 3.0% tare. — Christopher DeVries
Sidney Sugars, Inc.
The staff at Sidney Sugars began contracting the 2013 sugarbeet crop with our growers in March. Our preceding fall and winter had been wet, and moisture in the seedbeds was full. Sugarbeet planting started two weeks late. Most growers were in the fields by the first of May, when fields were dry enough to plant. Emergence was good, with spring temperatures in the 70s. The spring was dry with little rain. Growers were beginning to irrigate their fields when the rains came, and we received timely rains all spring. The fields didn’t really require irrigation until after the 4th of July.
Summer storms were active, and the sugarbeet fields were hit with frequent hailstorms. At least 50% of our crop was hit with hail. In June, the staff projected the crop at 26.5 tons per acre. The crop continued to grow throughout the summer with warm days and nights. The usual problems appeared for growers. Cercospora leafspot was a problem in some growing areas, and grasshoppers were also bad in 2013. The root samples taken during the summer showed very good growth, with the results telling us we had a high-tonnage crop developing.
Our harvest started October 1 with excellent field conditions. Receiving records were broken at most stations. We did not receive any moisture until October 11, by which time we were 80% harvested. But the final 20% took another 20 days to harvest, as several rains made harvest conditions difficult. The last truck unloaded October 31.
Sidney Sugars growers harvested 31,100 acres in 2013. The root samples didn't lie, as final yields averaged 27.6 tons per acre. Sugar percent was very disappointing, however, with an average of 16.58%.
The factory is running well and maintaining a very good slice rate. Keeping enough employees is tough, given out location in the “oil patch,” but so far, we are doing okay. Our campaign should be completed by the first week of February. — Russ Fullmer
Beet Sugar Cooperative The 2013 season began with planting being delayed until about the 10th of May — some two weeks later than normal. Despite the late planting, timely rains got the crop off to a good start, which led to some of the best and most consistent stands we have seen in quite a while. The rainfall in June was a variable, with some areas getting heavy rains, but most of the growing area receiving close-to-ideal rainfall amounts at just the right times. With nice temperatures, the crop was growing well, with very little disease.
July started out warm and kept getting hotter and drier as the month progressed. By the end of July, the beets were starting to show some water stress in certain areas. The heat and lack of rainfall continued throughout August. By the end of August, virtually all of the beets were showing signs of drought stress, and their growth had slowed. On the positive side, though, the dry weather — coupled with timely fungicide sprays — limited the amount of Cercospora leafspot.
The late planting date, coupled with the small root samples throughout the summer, indicated that the crop was not as large as was hoped. So it was decided to begin prepile on September 23 and main harvest on October 5. As it started to rain in September, the crop began to grow — and by the beginning of October, initial reports were indicating a yield of up to 27 tons per acre.
The start of main harvest saw some heat shutdowns, quickly followed by two days of excessive rain that stopped harvest. Efforts to begin again were hampered by several days of cold, drizzly weather that limited how much lifting could be accomplished. Just as harvest was resuming, a series of significant freeze events occurred — the worst of which saw up to 13 consecutive hours of temperatures below 28 degrees. Temperatures down to 19 degrees were recorded by at least one reporting station. This event damaged the beets and significantly limited our ability to store them for an extended period of time. It was decided to harvest as many beets as could be stored safely and then end harvest.
In the end, SMBSC’s yield averaged 27.7 tons per harvested acre, with average sugar content of 16.34% and a purity of 91.46%. We are expecting to finish slice some time during the latter half of March. — Todd Geselius
Spreckels Sugar Co.
Planting of the 2013 Imperial Valley crop began the first week in September 2012, but growers held back because of the temperatures and the threat of rain. We received some localized heavy rains in the south area, and some fields had to be reworked to get seedbeds back in shape. By the end of the second week of September, all areas were planting and irrigating the planted fields. Growers were excited to see how the Roundup Ready® varieties would come up since this was our first year of planting them. Temperatures were ranging around 105-110 for the month.
October started off hot with temperatures in the 107-110 area as planting was in full swing. The Roundup Ready varieties looked very good with a few exceptions. We were happy to have some way to control the wild beets in problem fields. The Roundup controlled the wild beets even better than we had hoped. We still had to have crews clean up weed problems in conventional variety fields, but the Roundup Ready fields were almost weed free. Planting was completed the last week in October. We had 28.6% of the acreage planted to Roundup Ready varieties this year.
November was warm, but temperatures cooled the last of the month and the beet crop was making excellent progress. We began taking our root samples the first of December, and the results were above the five-year average. We received some rain in mid-December. We had some nights with temperatures below freezing, but the crop showed no damage from the cold.
Root samples in January were again above the five-year average. February saw temperatures warm up and the crop making good progress. The root samples again showed an above-average crop. Early harvest fields were beginning to yellow up, and the outlook for harvest was good.
March was another good month for us with warm temperatures and good growing conditions. Root samples for March showed a little below the five year average on yield. Harvest was scheduled to start on April 1.
Harvest began with yields that were just below the average. Quality was disappointing, being below the last few years at start-up time. Yields began catching up, but the quality continued to lag behind. Temperatures were normal during the harvest period, and growers were doing a good job of cleaning up the crop. Factory operations were good, as was sugar production, despite the lower quality of the crop being harvested. As harvest progressed, yields continued to be average and the quality below average. Harvest was completed August 5.
The final harvest figures were for an average yield of 43.65 tons per acre, sugar content of 16.17% and purity of 87.75%. While the quality was disappointing, we had a good crop overall and the growers did a good job of delivering a clean crop to the receiving station. We look forward to the next crop, with plans for planting 24,500 acres of sugarbeets for the 2014 harvest season. Good luck to our growers on the coming crop season. — Ron Tharp
Western Sugar Cooperative
The 2013 crop year started off cold and damp across all Western Sugar regions with below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation. This caused the crop to be planted later than normal. Irrigation water supplies were adequate to allow the crop to have near-full irrigation supply, except for the Front Range of Colorado. There were very few disease issues in all growing regions.
Record-setting rains occurred in September and October, causing the sugarbeet crop to gain tons and reduce sugar contents. The wet weather also caused a difficult harvest, with muddy conditions in all regions of the cooperative. Early harvest started on September 9, and the overall harvest was complete by early November.
Yields in the northern region averaged 30.7 tons per acre, with a 14.9% sugar. Nebraska averaged 29.3 tons with a 15.3% sugar; in Colorado, 33.5 tons with a 15.0% sugar. Beet processing is scheduled to be complete in mid- to late February. — Jerry Darnell
Wyoming Sugar Company
The 2013 growing season for the Wyoming Sugar Company started off late because of cold weather and the threat of frost. As the threat of frost diminished, moisture delayed planting even further. On average, our beet planting was
about 30 days later than normal.
The growing season got under way late but turned into a wonderful year. Other than a couple of shots of hail in a couple of areas, we enjoyed an exceptional growing season.
We began to harvest in late September. The weather was still too warm to start piling beets for long-term storage, and we quickly realized our sugar percentages were well below average. As we were approaching start-up for the factory, we began to get rain. The rain delayed harvest considerably throughout the month of October.
The factory started slicing beets on October 3, and it wasn't until almost the third week in October that we were able really start building some storage piles. We fought muddy conditions the rest of harvest. We were very fortunate that we never got freezing conditions until well into November.
We concluded harvest on November 21 and were able to harvest 98% of our crop. We had record tonnage of 29.38 tons per acre, but our sugar percentage came in at just over 15%.
Campaign is going well despite dealing with all the mud and lower sugar percentages. Recent improvements in the factory have been a blessing in helping us deal with tough conditions. — Myron Casdorph
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Editor & General Manager of The Sugarbeet Grower