The Roundup -

Beet Crop Looking Very Good

Early Harvest Starts September 10


September 5, 2018 | View PDF

Leaf covered with Cercospora Spores. (Photo submitted)

The sugar beet leaves are starting to turn yellow as the plants mature and growers and Sidney Sugars gear up for this year's harvest.

Early harvest will start September 10 at the Sugar Valley (Fairview) station followed by the factory district on the 11th, Savage the 17th, Culbertson the 19th , Pleasant View the 24th and Powder River October 1st. Acres and tons will initially be limited as crews make sure pilers are operating correctly. The factory will begin slicing on September 12, four days ahead of last year.

Sidney Sugars has been working closely with Montana DOT and Transystems to make sure supply to the factory is uninterrupted during construction on Hwy 200. "They've been excellent to work with," Sidney Sugars agricultural manager Duane Peters stated. Peters also mentioned the LYIP court victory saying, "We all should be happy we have water. We're very thankful the court sided with us."

For Sidney Sugars general manager Dave Garland, this is an exciting time, getting ready for harvest and campaign. Water testing began the week of August 13, making sure that everything is working as it should.

This year's crop looks very good with tremendous growth seen from the first root samples to the second and sugar content the highest ever seen in the second root samples. Third and final root samples were pulled last week showing an estimated 32 to 32.5 ton total crop average with good sugars.

The spring of 2018 was kind to growers, starting off with good soil moisture and moderate weather resulting in better stands than last year. Only 800 acres of beets had to be replanted which was very good.

"Everything is going good, with the farmers doing a tremendous job of irrigating. They're what makes this valley go," Peters said. "The crop was never stressed. We have good looking fields with good color. The plants are yellowing which is a sign that they're maturing. We should have very good tonnage and sugar."

Cercospora has been a challenge this year. Growers and Sidney Sugars personnel have been closely monitoring the crop and walking the fields looking for signs of the disease. Sidney and Sugar Valley have sprayed once while Savage has had to spray twice so far. "The growers have been very progressive about spraying," Peters said.

Agriculturalist Kathryn Cayko, who insists that she has the greatest group of growers, said Sugar Valley has a good crop this year with 90% of the fields looking really good. The area has experienced a couple of weed problems including confirmed glyphosate resistance in kochia. However, she said that can be nipped in the bud with rotation crops. Minor disease has been seen with 75% of growers having to spray once for cercospora but the cool mornings are slowing down infection. Growers are getting ready for harvest and hoping for a long, cool season.

Storage at Sugar Valley was very good last year and they hope to repeat that with lots of updates to the pile grounds. Substantially more forced air ventilation has been added which will improve beet storage during the campaign.

Hail was spotty this year but Buford growers saw significant damage on July 21st. However, Cayko said those beets are definitely recovering.

The southern grower district, which includes Savage, Glendive and Terry, saw a late start this spring due to lots of rain, making planting tough. However, agriculturalist James Johnson says those beets made a good stand and are looking really good, probably a bit ahead of last year. The area saw some weed issues including marestail, kochia and lambs quarter. Some volunteer corn was also seen but that can be easily taken care of Johnson said.

The crop has seen heavy pressure from cercospora with most growers having to spray twice. The first root sample was behind the other areas but the second had caught up and growers are looking forward to a very good crop.

Culbertson beets are coming along nicely even though the same 400 acres were hit by hail four times this summer. Sidney are a missed most of the bad weather and beets look good. Growers in both areas had to spray for cercospora and continue to closely monitor fields. Agriculturalist Vanessa Pooch said she and the growers are pleasantly surprised that they don't have the heavy overall disease pressure seen in the past, suggesting maybe the cooler nights this summer have made a difference. Growers in her area are keeping up on irrigating as well as other field work, and she has had some inquiries about spent lime for fall field work. Now that the various yard foremen have arrived, moving pilers and getting everything ready, Pooch is looking forward to prepile September 11 in Sidney and September 19 in Culbertson.

As always, it's been a busy season for Sidney Sugars agriculturalists. They, along with seed company representatives and the seed committee from the grower board attended a coded trial tour the week of August 13th. One coded trial in each of the Savage, Sugar Valley and factory districts were viewed as well as two Fusarium trials. Fusarium is only controlled by seed selection, with the goal of developing a resistant variety. A couple of grower strip trials were also viewed.

"They all looked good," Peters said. "We really appreciate our cooperators who take part in these trials." Results from the trials are used to make decisions for next year's seed selection.

In a constant effort to provide growers with the latest and most accurate information, Peters, Pooch, Johnson and Steve Skaalure, MT and WY sales manager for Beta Seed, traveled to Minnesota in mid-August to view fusarium trials located outside of Moorhead. They looked at two trials which were fused with Sidney Sugars' varieties, then toured Beta Seed's official proprietary trials as well as their facility. The group then viewed cercospora trials which included Sidney Sugars' varieties In Randolph, MN. They also viewed an aphanomyces trial and toured the Beta Seed facility in Shakopee, MN. The entire group valued the information they were able to glean on the trip.

Sidney Sugars and the growers urge everyone to "Think Safety" this harvest season. Please watch for trucks and be patient as harvest gets underway.


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