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.
A significant rain event in mid-August of five to ten inches created challenges in maintaining CLS fungicide spray intervals but the shareholders did an exceptional job of staying on schedule. Their efforts helped keep CLS from having a significant negative impact on the crop, as was seen the prior year. Shareholders continued to maintain their spraying discipline for the remainder of the growing season which kept this difficult disease from having a major impact on the ultimate outcome of the crop.
Prepile began once conditions began to improve following the big rain in August. Prepile conditions improved slowly as the relatively cool temperatures did not allow for quicker drying. By the middle of September, conditions were quite good and prepile was progressing nicely. Unfortunately, another significant rain event of four to seven inches took place at the end of September which delayed the beginning of main harvest by a week. Main harvest proved to be rather difficult with numerous shutdowns for both heat and cold. The biggest issue was the lack of drying which meant muddy conditions throughout harvest. Harvest was finally finished on November 3rd.
Despite the difficult harvest, the crop did result in a record yield of 30.29 tons per acre. The final sugar content of 16.37% was a little lower than hoped for but considering the excessive rain between the middle of August and the end of October it is understandable. The purity of the crop proved to be very good, resulting in a highly processable crop.