Amalgamated Sugar Co.
Growers and company personnel started the 2014 crop year with concerns about irrigation water availability due to reduced winter snowpack levels in most mountain drainages. Late-spring precipitation levels saved the day by filling most irrigation reservoirs and providing adequate river flows. Most irrigation districts had an adequate water supply for raising sugarbeets. There were 4,558 acres not planted to beets due to lack of water in respective irrigation systems.
A total of 182,786 acres were contracted, with 178,461 acres actually planted. Due to difficult spring conditions, 15,172 acres of sugarbeets had to be replanted. Those replanted acres were a significant reduction when compared to the two previous years.
Growing conditions in the spring, summer and fall were conducive for good sugarbeet advancement. Minimal disease pressures associated with the favorable environmental conditions also helped set the stage for another record crop. In the end, the 2014 Amalgamated crop yielded a company average of 37.3 tons per acre and an average tare lab sugar content of 17.25%. The beets went into piles in good condition using the cleaner, cooler sugarbeet receiving guidelines. — Greg Dean
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American Crystal Sugar Co.
Primary fieldwork for the 2014 American Crystal sugarbeet crop was initiated in the fall of 2013. Seedbed preparation and soil fertilization progress fared more favorably than in the previous year.
A wet fall and cold winter teamed with a cool, late spring to delay planting. The average 2014 planting date was 16 days later than normal, with the last acre planted by mid-June. But despite generally unfavorable seedbed and planting conditions, stand establishment was excellent due to timely light rains and a stretch of abnormally warm temperatures during germination. This led to the highest population stand counts in recent history.
Most of July and all of August were characterized by slightly below-average temperatures and rainfall. Growing conditions turned favorable for sugarbeets in late August through September with slightly above-average temperatures and near-average precipitation.
Weed control was favorable in all districts, though showing continued concerning signs of herbicide-resistant weeds in locales throughout the growing region. Waterhemp and common ragweed were the primary issues.
Disease pressure was generally lower than the previous crop year, with early season Aphanomyces gaining momentum early in the 2014 season. Rhizoctonia continues as a significant production threat and the season’s primary disease. Fusarium incidences were lessened by utilization of selected varietal placement.
Root maggot caused significant production losses in the Drayton and East Grand Forks districts. Sugarbeet root aphids were held in check with a combination of proper varietal selection and timely rains hampering the pest’s presence. Isolated areas of wireworm and springtail were present as well.
Prepile harvest began September 2 with stockpile harvest commencing on October 1. Harvest operations rolled essentially nonstop for 11 days straight. Ideal weather and lifting conditions made this one of the most expeditious harvests in company history, with 98% of the crop harvested by October 12 and no acreage left unharvested.
Final crop statistics reflected the late planting’s hindering of production, with the 2014 American Crystal crop averaging just over 23 tons per acre with a below-average sugar content of 17.4%. — Tyler Grove
28th Crop Year Review
These pages contain our 28th annual sugarbeet crop year review. All North American sugarbeet production regions are represented in this series of company reports.
The Sugarbeet Grower extends sincere thanks to those individuals listed for providing the report for their company.
Planting of the 2014 Alberta beet crop began on April 14. By May 1, 70% of the crop was planted; by May 18, planting was complete. Though planting was delayed slightly, timely rains throughout April and May helped considerably with stand establishment. Unfortunately, a 19°F frost event on May 7 reduced plant populations in some areas, resulting in 1,600 acres of replant. Final plant populations averaged 171 plants per 100 feet of row in our three research sites.
June was a challenging month for the crop. A severe hailstorm on June 8 affected 5,800 acres, with damage of up to 80% defoliation. A week of rain, starting June 14, supplied up to 5.0 inches of water in some areas. Fortunately, accumulated water drained from fields quickly, and only 25 acres were reported as lost. Warm weather toward the end of June assisted with canopy development, and by July 1 row closure had occurred in the majority of fields.
The remainder of the growing season was exceptional, with only a few localized hailstorms causing minor crop damage. With consumptive water use approaching 1.6 inches per week, growers were kept busy supplying irrigation water to the crop throughout July and August. September was a wet month, with a significant 3.0-inch rain event occurring on September 4. This rain, combined with a light frost (28°F) on September 10, delayed the harvesting of other crops, but did not negatively impact our sugarbeet crop. Warm temperatures rebounded and, combined with a full soil profile, contributed greatly to our above-average crop.
Harvest operations commenced on October 1 and were completed by October 30. Although daytime temperatures were warm, harvest conditions could not have been better, with no interruptions from rain until October 25. Overall, 2014 was one of the best sugarbeet harvests in recent memory, as well as record setting. Southern Alberta growers produced 638,099 metric tonnes (703,383 short tons) off 22,375 acres, resulting in an average yield of 28.53 tonnes (31.45 short tons) per acre. Sugar content was 19.07% in 2014, up 0.5% over 2013 crop but 0.28% lower than our record quality crop in 2011. — Cindy Bly
Michigan Sugar Company
Wow! What a year! In contrast to our 2012 season when 60% of the beets were planted in March and all the acres were in the ground by April 15, crop year 2014 had very few acres planted in April. Our first field was planted April 11, but there was very little progress until late April/early May. We essentially planted one-third of our crop in early May, one-third in mid-May and the last third in late May/early June. Many growers were planting around Memorial Day weekend. There was not a lot of optimism at the time.
We were fortunate, after planting, to have good growing conditions that created quick emergence and good stands of beets in most fields. June, July and August were good growing months with adequate and, at times, a bit excessive rainfall. At no time during the summer months were the beets under stress for any reason, and they did respond to the favorable conditions.
By early August, attitudes began to change, the beets looked good, and there was some excitement about the crop size. We were actually encouraged to start our factories early.
Harvest officially started on August 29 at the Croswell factory. Bay City and Sebewaing started one week later and Caro on September 10 due to some capital project delays. Everyone was pleasantly surprised with the progress and growth of this late-planted crop.
By early October, our prepile estimates for final yield were almost unbelievable. We actually put a voluntary set-aside program in place if needed. The trigger point would be 4.8 million tons, and the final date to decide was October 30. The set-aside program was never implemented, but the crop was impressive just the same. Our final numbers ended up as follows:
• Acres Harvested: 159,519
• Average Yield: 29.63 tons/acre
• Average Grower Sugar: 18.37%
• Total Tons Received: 4,727,303
This late-planted crop became the second largest crop received in Michigan Sugar history, missing the record set in 2012 by just 23,746 tons. The yield per acre is a record, beating the average yield of 29.3 tons set just two years ago in 2012.
Even better than the impressive yield is the quality of this late-planted crop. The beets harvested and received after October 20 and put into storage piles have an average sugar of 18.85% and a Clear Juice Purity of 96.25. Unbelievable!
It was a wet and difficult harvest, but the challenges of both planting and harvesting the 2014 crop are now replaced with the rewarding feeling of a job well done. — Paul Pfenninger
Minn-Dak Farmers Co-op
Minn-Dak growers began planting the 2014 crop in late April. There was a small four-day window that allowed 20% of the crop to get planted before a prolonged cool and wet period shut down further planting until late May. The balance of the crop was planted from late May into early June.
Heavy rains impacted the much of the growing area during the month of June. In spite of that, very little acreage was abandoned; but yield potential was reduced significantly.
July and August were good for recovery and crop growth. While July was warm and dry, August brought the return of normal moisture, which in turn boosted crop potential. Even so this crop was not in the same league as the 2012 and 2013 Minn-Dak crops.
Based on reduced projected yields due to the late start, harvest was pushed back to September 17. Full harvest was under way as of 2:00 a.m. on October 2. This harvest was remarkable in that it never shut down for heat, cold or rain. Lifting conditions were ideal, and temperatures of beets going into storage were outstanding. Harvest wrapped up on October 15.
In the end, Minn-Dak growers harvested 2,440,975 tons of beets from 111,002 acres. The crop averaged 22.0 tons per acre with a 17.3% sugar content, an 89.3% purity and 1.7% tare. — Tom Knudsen
Sidney Sugars, Inc.
After grower meetings were held in February, the staff began contracting for sugarbeet acres in March. We had a cold, open winter, so growers were in their fields early and began planting 10 days ahead of normal. We had timely rains and a few snowstorms, so irrigating the crop up was not necessary. Emergence was very good. Fields were spared freezing temperatures, strong winds or anything to hurt their plant stands. The crop was off to a good start.
It was a good summer, with very few damaging hailstorms. Temperatures were not too harsh. Irrigation water was in good supply, and growers were able to keep the beets growing throughout the summer. Cercospora leafspot was found in most of the growing area, and fungicides were applied. Weed control was very good. The fields started turning yellow in August and continued this pattern into September.
Fall brought some chilly nights and warm days, which we thought would help harvested sugar percent. The ag staff predicted a 29.2-ton-per-acre crop. If the yield results validated the estimate, it would be a record average tonnage for the Sidney growing area.
We began harvest with a few receiving stations the last couple days of September. Before we could open all the stations, a storm system brought heavy rains to the majority of the beet growing areas. We were lucky that fields were very dry and soaked up the rains. We resumed harvest in a few days and ran without interruption until the end. The only factors to slow us down were strong winds and warm temperatures. The last station closed on October 25.
Sidney Sugars growers harvested 29,218 acres in 2014. A final average yield of 30.5 tons per acre exceeded the crop estimate. Probably the most exciting aspect of this crop was the excellent sugar percent delivered to us by our growers. We averaged an 18.44% sugar, a huge improvement from last year.
The factory is having an excellent run with the high-quality beets they are receiving, and great sugar production is achieved most days. Though the oil boom continues to change our area and town, Sidney Sugars has been able to find enough people to run the factory. The campaign should be finished by the middle of February. — Russ Fullmer
Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op
The 2014 season started out with planting being delayed until the last half of May — three to four weeks later than normal. Once the crop was planted, the weather remained challenging throughout the month of June, with continued wet conditions until the beginning of July. In some cases, replanting continued into the first days of July. The wet conditions in June, coupled with often less-than-optimal conditions at the time of planting, resulted in stands that were generally erratic and less than desired.
The month of July and the first half of August were generally dry, which allowed the crop to start growing rapidly. The rain began again by mid-August, with some areas receiving up to 7.0 inches of rainfall in a single event. In some cases, the rain continued and there were areas that received over 15 inches of rainfall during the last half of August. Unfortunately, some of the replant areas drowned out for a second time. However, most of the growing area received adequate but not overwhelming rainfall during this time.
We began prepile activities on September 3. Generally, weather throughout prepile and main harvest was excellent with little rain and nearly ideal temperatures. This resulted in only minimal weather shutdowns during harvest. Due to the late planting and difficult growing season, the sugar content started out low — but did climb very rapidly as the season progressed. Tonnage also started on the lower side, but grew at a near-normal pace throughout the harvest season.
In the end SMBSC’s yield averaged 22.2 tons per harvested acre with sugar content of 15.86% and purity of 89.90%. While the numbers are somewhat disappointing, the crop was realistic, considering the difficult growing season it went through. — Todd Geselius
Spreckels Sugar Company
Planting in the Imperial Valley began the first week in September 2013 with high temperatures. Some growers held off planting until the temps cooled down. The North and South areas were able to get into the field and keep going. Heavy rains delayed the Central area until late September.
The crop emerged very well and was off to a good start. Even the Central area had good stands after being delayed in planting. Once planting was completed, we were at 52% Roundup Ready® varieties and 48% conventional varieties. It was a little difficult to find enough herbicide for the conventional varieties to get good weed control.
Weed control in the Roundup Ready varieties was excellent. Root samples taken during the season showed an average crop with just below average quality. The winter was a little warmer than normal, and we had very good crop development with virtually no nights below freezing for the first time in many years.
We started harvest the 1st of April with excellent digging conditions. Temperatures were normal, and factory operations were very good. Yields and quality of the crop were just above average for the month of April with 30.83 tons per acre, sugar content of 17.44% and purity of 88.49%. May showed average yields and quality with to-date numbers of 36.49 tons, sugar content of 17.12% and purity of 88.89%.
June was a little warmer than normal and showed just below average yields and average quality with to-date numbers of 40.23 tons, sugar content of 17.04% and purity of 88.91%. July was even warmer, and final yields showed an average crop of 43.42 tons, sugar content of 16.77% and purity of 88.51%. Final day of the 2014 harvest was July 27.
Overall, it was a very successful harvest season for the Brawley district. The factory ran extremely well for the entire campaign, and the growers harvested and delivered a very clean crop for processing. The Brawley factory wants to thank the growers for all of their hard work to make this a successful campaign. — Ron Tharp
Western Sugar Cooperative
The 2014 crop year started off well in all Western Sugar regions — except in the Nebraska area, where 21% of the crop had to be replanted due to freezing conditions that occurred in late April. Irrigation water supplies were adequat
to allow the crop to have full irrigation, and there were very few disease issues in any of the growing regions.
Above-normal temperatures in October delayed the sugarbeet harvest. The majority of harvest occurred only in the early morning hours due to the warm daytime temperatures. Early harvest started on September 2, and this year’s Western Sugar harvest was completed in early November.
Yields in the northern region (Billings and Lovell districts) averaged 31.0 tons per acre, with a 17.5% sugar. Nebraska averaged 28.2 tons with a 17.8% sugar and Colorado 31.7 tons with a 17.3% sugar. Beet processing is scheduled to be complete by mid- to late February. — Jerry Darnell
Wyoming Sugar Company
The 2014 crop got started about two weeks behind our traditional planting dates. Cool, wet weather and the threat of frost kept most of our growers from starting to plant their beets until the latter part of April. The year started off looking a lot like the prior year; but then the weather warmed up and we were off and running.
The growing season was quite moderate. We had cooler-than-normal days and above-average precipitation for most of our season. The beet crop seemed to improve daily, which gave us higher expectations with every root sample that we pulled. In June we estimated the crop at 28 tons per acre; but by mid-September we had hopes of a 30-plus ton crop.
Harvest began September 29, but it was slowed down quickly with rain. But the forecast called for warm temperatures, the ground dried up quickly, and harvest got under way again. Campaign began on October 4, and we were off and running. Then hot temperatures impeded most activity, with a shortened revamped harvest schedule. We still finished with a 29.86-ton crop before Halloween. Our sugar percentage finished at a near-record 18.32%.
Growers worked hard to deliver the beets as cool as possible, given the warm harvest conditions with which we were faced. Company staff is working hard on managing the piles, and the factory is doing a great job processing the crop. We expect to finish slice on January 15. — Myron Casdorph
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Editor & General Manager of The Sugarbeet Grower