The 2016 Harvest Brought in a Record Breaking Sugar Beet Crop
It was an interesting growing season and harvest for sugar beets this year, with 2016 being a record year for tonnage. There was an estimated 31 – 31.5 tons per acre, however lots of fall rain pushed that number to an average of 33.4 tons per acre in comparison to 32.3 tons/acre in 2015, and 30.4 tons per acre in 2014.
The season started in mud, and finished in mud. The dry spring was hit with 3 inches of rain that came fast, hardening a crust on top of the fields. Over the summer, lighter than normal beet stands indicated larger beets; there are usually 12 – 15 beets planted in a 10' space, and this year there were few more than 10 beets per 10'. Harvest proved to be wetter than normal, and the September rains effected the sugar content; the preferred sugar content is 17.75% or higher, and the 2016 crop averaged 17.69%, but ultimately, the exceptional tonnage made up for the sugar content.
A testament to the size of the sugar beets this year, Sugar Valley had the largest beet during the Big Beet Contest at more than 27 lbs.
"I can't say enough about the farmers," commented Sidney Sugar's Agricultural Manager Duane Peters. "The increased tonnage is a credit to the growers. They are a good crew and know what they're doing. This year blew us out of the water; it was a challenging season, but it was a very good crop."
Overall, there were 1,124,000 tons harvested from 33,633 total acres, and the large size of the sugar beets should provide good air-flow while the beets are stored in piles.
Peters added that he would like to see cool weather while the beets are stored, and that he is very happy with the 2016 crop, which is the largest crop in the history of the factory.