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By Isis Simpson-Mersha | email@example.com
BAY CITY, MI -- Dave Rupprecht, co-owner of Zwerks and Sons Farms in Vassar, felt the impact Mother Nature had on his sugar beet crop this year.
Extreme flooding followed by a period of dry weather cut his crop by as many as 4 tons per acre.
"The last two years have been probably below average from what we would normally expect from yield and for sugar percentage," Rupprecht said. "Certainly we're looking for a better year this year."
Michigan Sugar's beet slicing campaign ran from August 2017 through February 2018. This past year, 150,662 acres of sugar beets were harvested by Michigan Sugar's, down 7,000 acres from 2016.
3.85 million tons of sugarbeets, or 25.56 tons per acre, were harvested. This was down from 4.88 million tons, or 31.03 tons per acre, in 2016.
While the number of beets harvested was down, sugar content pulled from those beets was up, Michigan Sugar officials said.
Part of the reason for the crop decline was that growers only planted on 92 percent of their acres this season, down from 96 percent a year ago. Michigan Sugar officials said the decision to cut back on planting was done in an effort to make sure the processing campaign doesn't extend too long into the year and potentially force the company to throw out beets in a pile that go bad.
"The decision was made to scale back a bit for the 2017-18 campaign in an effort to hit that sweet spot," said Rob Clark, spokesman for Michigan Sugar. "Of course, you can never predict what Mother Nature will bring and, unfortunately, she impacted our final numbers last year in terms of quantity."
But it was the major flooding and a subsequent drought this past summer that had the biggest impact on the campaign.
This past June, Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Bay, Gladwin, Midland and Isabella counties. More than six inches of rain pounded Mid-Michigan over a couple of days, causing historic flooding that wiped out roads, drowned fields and destroyed homes.
The later months of summer didn't see much rain for several weeks.
While sugar beet production was down, sugar content came in at 18.3 percent -- up 15.85 percent from a year ago.
"While our tonnage was down this year, it was encouraging to see a rebound in our sugar content," said Jim Ruhlman, Executive Vice President for Michigan Sugar Company. "The increase in quality coupled with a lower shrink allowed us to produce as much salable sugar this year as last year."
Clark, with Michigan Sugar, said the lower yield wouldn't have much impact on the price of sugar in grocery stores.
Farmers might be getting their seeds in the ground later than normal for this year's season due to unseasonably cold temperatures. Snow is in the forecast this week for most of Northern Michigan, but Mid-Michigan could see an inch or two, according to MLive Chief Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa.
"We're going to be a little bit later planting this year on most of our acres," said Rupprecht, who had about 10 percent of his crop planted before Easter.
He hopes to get back out into the fields next week to finish planting. He said on average the farm tries to produce 35 tons for the acre and 19 percent sugar.
Sugar Beet News |
via MLive.com http://www.mlive.com
April 2, 2018 at 12:37PM