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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