Effective Control of Weeds Essential to Control Beet Production Costs — “Because weeds like kochia and pigweed are prolific seed-producing factories, effective weed control was never more important, particularly when you put a pencil to the rising costs of hand labor.
“ ‘We know that good sequential herbicide treatments cost about $35 to $40 an acre to apply,’ explains Ed Schweizer, USDA weed control specialist, Colorado State University, ‘whereas hoeing, if you have a heavy weed infestation, may cost $60 to $100 an acre.’
“His research shows that it takes only 2 to 6 weeds per 100 feet of beet row to reduce yields. ‘We also know where a grower uses sequential herbicide treatments, his rows could have more than 6 weeds per 100 feet without suffering serious yield loss because weed growth is suppressed and less competitive,’ he points out. . . .
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“ ‘Good weed control means integrated weed management — a program utilizing both cultural methods and herbicides,’ he continues. ‘This means controlling weeds with cultivation, employing sequential sprays.’ His other suggestions are:
“Make the most economical and efficient use of chemical treatments. Timeliness is a key factor in achieving control. Monitor weed size in fields. ‘We know postemerge herbicides work the best to treat weeds that are small’. . . .
“To avoid herbicide injury to plants, don’t apply chemicals when beets are stressed or if there’s a rapid change from cool to hot weather. . . .
“ ‘If a farmer cultivates too close, hand blocks his beets and then was to apply a herbicide too soon afterward, [Schweizer] warns, ‘you might see injury. Insects and disease also contribute to plant stress situations.’
“For preplant treatments, Schweizer recommends either Nortron or Ro-Neet. Postemerge choices include Dowpon, Betanex, Betamix and Herbicide 273. ‘With late season weed problems, you should look at Eptam and Treflan and apply them to layby or after thinning.’ ”
Michigan Sugar Produces Record -- “Michigan Sugar Company produced a record 370 million pounds of refined sugar during the 1984-85 processing season which ended February 11.
“ ‘This year’s campaign (processing season) was one of the best ever. It exceeded our expectations,’ said Ernest Flegenheimer, president of Michigan Sugar Company. ‘Three of our four processing plants set individual records for most sugar produced,’ he added.
“During the entire campaign, the four facilities processed more than 1,437,000 tons of sugarbeets, surpassing last year’s record of 1,356,000 tons. . . .
“Flegenheimer attributes the outstanding production records to ‘efficient plant operation, high sugar content of the beets and above-average yield in tons per acre of sugarbeets.’ The average per acre yield was 20 tons, up from 19.4 tons the year before.”
USDA’s Robert Barry Talks About Background of Sugar Legislation -- “Preparing a sugar policy that meets everyone’s taste is an elusive and probably impossible exercise in any year, given the backdrop of competing interests. This year, however, the theme of farm policy reform poses a challenge to the traditional allocation of benefits as policymakers take a hard look at farm price supports and individual commodity programs.
“Among the parties with a stake in the outcome are beet and cane sugar producers and processors, corn sweetener producers, sugar refiners, consumers, taxpayers, and foreign suppliers of sugar to our shores. . . .
“ ‘The growing and industrial processing of sugarbeets are closely tied to each other. The same goes for sugarcane. No farmer would grow sugarbeets or sugarcane for commercial purposes without a contract for processing,’ says economist Robert Barry, a sweeteners analyst with USDA’s Economic Research Service. ‘Sugarbeets and sugarcane are just too bulky and too perishable to be traded in the rate state. Thus, growers share in the receipts of sugarcane and sugarbeet processors.’
“Within the sweeteners industry, two once-rival interests have recently found common ground. ‘For 40 years, various parts of the industry had a cooperative working relationship. But strong divisions surfaced with the emergence of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and the collapse of the U.S. Sugar Act in 1974,’ says Barry.
“ ‘Ironically, in a bold reversal, sugar growers and processors have allied with their erstwhile rival, corn sweeteners, in a united effort to keep sugar price supports. The sugar producers seem to have reconciled themselves to the loss of about a third of their market to corn sweeteners, the maximum technical limit of substitution.’ Sugar producers are apparently hoping that unity with corn sweetener producers can help protect the rest of domestic sugar production from those who would reduce or remove price supports.
“In sugar’s favor, government costs to maintain the industry have been negligible in recent years, even though the current support program provides a premium U.S. price many times higher than the depressed world ‘free’ market price. In fact, duties under the support program have yielded money to the U.S. Treasury. Moreover, consumers have stable supplies of sugar that are lower priced than in some past years.”
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