The Roundup -

Catch A Sugar Beet Update At EARC/MSU Field Day July 19


Duane Peters will discuss sugarbeet variety selection and agronomy

Duane Peters, Agricultural Manager for Sidney Sugars, will speak to attendees at the 2017 EARC/MSU Extension Field Day on Wednesday, July 19.

Peters calls his update "short and sweet", but plans on discussing sugarbeet variety selection based on the latest research, and give an update on current agronomic issues.

Currently, there are about 32,500 acres of beet planted in the area, down about 1,200 acres from the 2016 season. The reasoning, Peters explains, is that "yields are higher so less acres are needed. Back around 1995, we'd get 22 to 25 ton crops. Now, we're getting 30 to 32 ton crops."

Though there are fewer acres, the beets aren't any less sweet. In 2015, sugar yields were 18.5%. Last year, yields were 17.5%. "That's what we want to see."

Though the Sidney area is known for high quality, high yield sugar production, Peters credits some of the success to science. "It's the genetics going into the seeds-we're seeing good yields." Current seeds are resistant to the herbicide Roundup, so "Roundup kills the weeds, so the beet crop is using all the nutrients," Peters said.

Seed development takes nearly a decade to complete, including 3 years to test the crop. Sidney Sugars and the EARC conduct code test trials, where the variety of the seed planted is unknown to the researcher. In November of the test year, the code is broken and the variety revealed. The variety that produced the best crop is then sold as seed for the next year's production.

Current concerns include leaf disease Cercospora leaf spot, which produces brown spots on the leaves of the sugarbeet and can reduce yield by up to half, and Rhizoctonia Solani, which causes root rot. "Ideally," Peters said, "the best crop would be resistant to both."

Additional potential topics include the current Farm Bill, which Peters says is always a hot topic. Peters encourages farmers to contact Congress and their Senators to provide input, and credits Senators Tester and Daines for being very active in the area.

Peters will speak at 9:15 a.m. at the MSU Eastern Agricultural Research Center, located one mile North of Sidney on the Fairview highway. Registration for the event begins at 8:30 a.m. and lunch will be provided at 12:30 p.m. For more information about the event contact 406-433-2208.


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