Sugar beets yield 29.9 tons per acre

November 5th, 2015


Category: Sugar

sugar pile450x299(AgriNews) – Farmers harvested a record sugar beet crop this year, said Todd Geselius, vice president of agriculture at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative at Renville.

“Harvest went very well,” Geselius said. “The weather was almost ideal not only for sugar beets but for corn and soybeans as well. A lot got done in a short period.”

Yields were approximately 29.9 tons per acre, Geselius said. Sugars were just under 17 percent, not a record but above average. Purity was average or a little better.

“It was a very good crop for us,” Geselius said. “Everybody is pretty happy.”

The cooperative’s growers are located in parts of 17 Minnesota counties or in a 60 mile radius of the Renville plant.

The cooperative’s re-haul operation is underway. Beets, which are piled at piling stations throughout the plant’s territory, are being trucked to the Renville plant where they are processed into sugar. This will last until in April.

Sugar beet yields were so good that there was some question if the cooperative would be able to harvest all its sugar beetsl.

“We did harvest them all,” Geselius said. “We have as many sugar beets as we want to have.”

Many growers who are starting to look at fall cover crops.

“It’s in the experimental phase,” he said. “We are getting a lot of questions, and we’re going to investigate how fall cover crops can work into the system. We have a pretty well-established spring cover crop system.”

More than 80 percent of the cooperative’s growers now plant a spring cover crop to reduce soil erosion.

“Growers plant oats about the same time that they plant sugar beets,” Geselius said. “Sugar beets are not very hardy when they’re small. Oats protect them from wind and also help hold soil in place. The cover crop grows with the beets until the four-leaf stage when they spray the cover crop.”

Producers have found that if they sow an oats cover crop in the spring with sugar beets, the beets will do better, Geselius said.

The spring cover crop program started 10 to 15 years ago as a requirement for one of the cooperative’s environmental permits, Geselius said. It required a certain number of acres of cover crops. Growers started trying it and ended up with better sugar beet crops. The co-op now has 3 to 3.5 times as many acres of cover crops as it needs to fulfill the permit requirement.

“Growers do it because they get a better crop,” Geselius said.”It’s a win, win, win. It’s good for the cooperative, the environment and the growers. It’s all good.”

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