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Story by Russell Nemetz, MTN News
In Montana and northern Wyoming, the sugarbeet industry continues to be a very important driver for local economies. And the early sugarbeet harvest is underway for both Western Sugar Cooperative and Sidney Sugars growers.
“Economics of the sugarbeet business have been very good for all my life” said Ervin Schlemmer, a sugarbeet farmer from Joliet, MT. “Sugarbeets have been the mortgage lifter on a lot of farms. We’ve had some tough times; but we’ve also had some very good times.”
For Western Sugar Cooperative grower Schlemmer, this year marks his 46th sugarbeet harvest. He says even with the ups and downs of the industry, harvest is still one of his favorite times of the year.
“I love digging sugarbeets and I love the smell of sugarbeets” said Schlemmer. “It’s one of those businesses where we raise a lot of other crops too but the sugarbeet business is kind of in my blood. I’ve been involved with the politics of sugar and I know it from one end to the other.”
He says this year’s crop will probably average in the low 30’s as for tonnage per acre; a little bit less than what Western Sugar is projecting as a whole in Montana and Wyoming. He attributes severe weather as the culprit.
“It’s a good average crop this year; at least in the Clarks Fork Valley” said Schlemmer. “I think some areas that didn’t receive hail have an excellent crop. Like I said, it’s not going to be as good as a crop as last year or even the year before; but it’s looks like we’re going to be happy with it.”
Duane Peters, Ag Manager for Sidney Sugars says growers along the Lower Yellowstone are also pleased with this year’s sugarbeet crop.
“Right now, the crop is looking good” said Peters. “We anticipate a ton at the end of the year of 32.5 tons per acre. We just ran our first sugars test and it came back 17.3 percent. Which is about .6 to .7 above the average. So, we’re very happy to see sugar content this high for this time of the year.”
Schlemmer says when sugarbeet growers have a good year, so does Montana’s overall economy.
“In Montana a lone it’s a $50 million business that’s put into our local economies, our small towns and our downtown businesses” said Schlemmer. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the co-op or the grocery store, the sugarbeet business is what helps feed this valley.”
According to the Montana Ag Statistics Service says sugarbeet acreage in Montana is 42,700 or the same as 2017 while in Wyoming it’s 30,900 acres or down 700 acres from 2017.
This year’s full sugarbeet harvest for both Western Sugar Cooperative and Sidney Sugars will begin the first week of October.
Sugar Beet News |
via KBZK.com https://kbzk.com
October 5, 2018 at 09:30AM
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service released the latest Crop Progress report on Monday. In the report, harvest progress updates where given for the country's top four sugarbeet producing states.
Michigan leads the way with 30% of their crop harvested. That is up from 27% last week and up six percent from this point last year. It is also up from the five-year average of 17%.
Idaho currently has 25% of its crop harvested, which is behind last year's mark of 31%, but ahead of the five-year average of 22%. Last week, 23% percent of the crop was out of the ground.
Stockpile harvest for American Crystal and Minn-Dak is now in full swing, which has helped North Dakota growers reach 20% of their sugarbeet crop harvested as of September 30th. That is slightly behind last year's mark of 21% and the five-year average of 22%. Last week, the Peace Garden State had 14% of its crop harvest.
The country's largest sugarbeet producing state, Minnesota, has harvested 18%. That is ahead of 2017's pace of 16%, but behind the five-year average of 20%. Minnesota growers have harvested seven percentage points since last week.
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Sugar beet harvest is underway and that means drivers need to look out for our busy farming community.
The Amalgamated Sugar factory is wrapping up their control harvest, It's when they manage the amount of sugar beets that go into the factory from September through Oct. 5.
Their regular harvest starts on Oct. 6, and the company is competing against mother nature to meet their harvest deadline by Nov. 1.
"We're in a race to beat the first hard freeze," said plant manager Jorge Devarona. "Through the month of October and the first week of November we're stacking all the excess beets at the factory."
The company will be shifting gears, more delivery trucks will be out on the roadways.
"We all gotta be aware of is that these trucks are typically going a lot slower than normal traffic," said Twin Falls District Ag Manager David Scantlin. "You have to be careful of approaching them from the back. The other thing is they're entering from non-typical places on the road."
Transystems LLC in Twin Falls is the contractor's company. Over dozens of trucks will be delivering sugar beets over the next month.
"All those trucks have an extra flashing light on the back trying to alert other motorist that they are traveling slower than they are and to use caution," Scantlin said.
The company is inspecting a sweet and prosperous harvest season. Scantlin recommends the public to keep a safe distance between the truck because they can't break as easily as other vehicles.
Sugar Beet News |
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October 3, 2018 at 02:35PM
By April Baumgarten
The sugar beet harvest is about to go full steam ahead, and Red River Valley farmers are set up to see higher yields than expected at planting, officials said.
Harvesters will go into full gear today, hauling sugar beets from fields to factories in Drayton, N.D., Hillsboro, N.D., East Grand Forks, Crookston and Moorhead. North Dakota is expected to produce 6.46 million tons of sugar beets, up slightly from last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest crop production report published Sept. 12. Though the area for harvest is slightly down from last year, yields could hit a record high of 30.9 tons per acre, up a half ton per acre from 2017, the USDA said.
"Projected yield is looking good," said Brian Ingulsrud, vice president of agriculture at American Crystal Sugar Co.
At planting season, farmers in the valley expected sugar beet yields of less than 30 tons per acre, Ingulsrud said. Higher-than-normal temperatures helped boost yields throughout the growing season.
He estimated the valley could see yields of about 30.7 tons per acre, which still is above average. The valley has seen a continued uptick in yields over the years in part because of improved genetics, he noted.
"Our trend on yield keeps going higher," he said.
The USDA estimated Minnesota will produce 12 million tons, down about 4 percent from last year. Yields could hit 30.1 tons per acre, up 0.8 tons from the Aug. 1 estimate but down a half ton per acre from last year's yields, the USDA said.
The northern part of the valley could see higher sugar content in beets than in the south, Ingulsrud said. That's likely due to drier conditions, he said.
"Those drier conditions do result in higher sugar content," he said. "We're seeing sugar content above 19 percent in the northern parts of the valley."
Sugar content from beets in the southern portions of the valley likely will be average, Ingulsrud said, adding factories are reporting 17 percent sugar content for the crop in the south.
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October 1, 2018 at 04:44PM
SCOTTSBLUFF — The early sugar beet harvest is underway, as farmers begin digging up and hauling their crops in for processing.
Gary Stone, an extension educator at Panhandle Research and Extension Center, said 2018 was a good year for sugar beet growth.
“We had plenty of water for the crop,” Stone said. “The temperatures, for the most part, were just about right, maybe a little higher than normal. Fields that didn’t get hail certainly did well.”
Stone added that the early harvest has on. “They bring the beets in and put them in a pile,” he said, “and those beets are still a living organism and they’re perspiring. If they get too hot, they start to rot.”
Jerry Darnell, an agronomist at Western Sugar, said that, as of Sept. 27, the early crop is averaging 16.1 percent sugar content, on track for the estimated 17.7 percent, and 1.39 sugar losses to molasses, and averaging 33.5 tons per acre. Roughly 12 percent, or 5,500 acres, have been harvested so far. Full harvest is expected to begin Oct. 6, when the weather is cool enough for Western Sugar to pile the beets.
Sugar Beet News |
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October 1, 2018 at 04:44PM
Today, the Steffans grow for Sidney Sugars, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Crystal Sugar Co., a farmer-owned cooperative based in Moorhead, Minn. The company has about 110 growers, ranging from Miles City to Culbertson in Montana, to Fairview, N.D.
Mike Steffan and his son, Jeff, started harvesting sugar beet fields on Sept. 17."It's drier than we thought it was going to be for this early in the game," Steffan said. Sugar contents at that early date were running 17 percent to 18 percent, which Steffan said is "phenomenal for this early in the game."
Sidney Sugars' pre-pile or "early harvest" started Sept. 10, with the factory starting processing Sept. 12. David Garland, general manager since 2012, is pleased, so far.
"I think with the size crop — the 1-million-plus (ton) sized crop — the early start is essential and beneficial to us slicing all of our beets and having a good run at our factory," Garland said.
Garland says the acreage will come in at 32,600 harvest acres. The company then was projecting a 32.25- to 32.5-tons-per-acre yield, which Garland said is becoming the "new standard" and will result in about 1 million tons.
From wet to dry
Sidney (Mont.) Sugars Inc., started its pre-pile harvest on Sept. 12, 2018.The 2018 crop year started wet and grew drier at the end, supplemented by irrigation, says Duane Peters, Sydney Sugars' agricultural manager. The rain also provided good rotation crops — wheat yields in the area were a strong 70 to 100 bushels per acre. Non-irrigated wheat produced 60 bushels an acre, and farmers saw good hay crops, at 5.5 to 6 tons per acre on irrigated land. Corn is looking good.
For the beets, a wetter year led to more rhizoctonia root and crown rot, despite good genetics and chemical control. The seedling stand was excellent and appears to offer potential for good sugar content.
Sidney Sugars contracted 33,000 acres, so it was bringing in 3,500 acres in the early harvest. The factory processes all of those beets and then starts fresh with the full-scale harvest, scheduled to begin Sept. 26, assuming temperatures are cool. Oct. 1 is the deadline to start all receiving stations.
Sidney Sugars projects to be done with slice on Feb. 20 and to be done with processing by the end of February.
Peters, who has been with the company for three years, said producers are on more solid footing with their future ability to irrigate. Farmers and the community have backed a "fish bypass/weir" to help the pallid sturgeon reproduce on the Yellowstone River. The planned $59 million irrigation project is designed to allow irrigation water to flow, serving crops on 55,000 acres. The issue has been mired in federal funding and legal challenges.
"Farmers, the irrigation district and the whole community wanted to show people that, we're here to help the fish but also we need the water," Peters said.
Steffan said the irrigation solution was a lifeline.
"If we'd have lost that, I don't know what we'd have raised," he said. "The factory would have been gone. I've drilled wells, but I don't know how long they'd have lasted without the irrigation here to keep filling the aquifer."
Mike Steffan and his son, Jeff, harvest beets just north of the Sidney (Mont.) Sugars Inc. factoryAs confidence grows, growers invest in their production and the company moves ahead with capital improvements. In the past year, the company installed a in a new "pebbled lime system," in its sugar purification system. Garland declined to indicate the investment amount.
In sugar processing, calcium oxide (lime) is used in what's known as a non-sugar removal process. Lime is commonly produced in the lime kiln where limerock (CaCO3) is burned transforming the rock into lime (CaO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The Sidney factory adds water to the lime to make a lime slurry. They add the lime slurry to the juice purification system after which the CO2 is reintroduced, capturing non-sugars, and settles out as a solid.
When processing fresh beets in the fall, the Sidney factory initially needs to add less lime to produce a high quality juice, Garland said. But as beets start to deteriorate in storage, additional lime is needed to counteract the deterioration.With the new Pebbled Lime System, additional lime will be available to maintain a steady slice rate and reduce sugar losses throughout the campaign.
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October 1, 2018 at 03:04PM