Beet trucks back on the road Tuesday

Posted 9/3/20

When the calendar turns to September, there’s a feeling of sugar beet harvest in the air.

And on script, the early dig of sugar beets in Western Sugar Cooperative’s Lovell Factory …

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Beet trucks back on the road Tuesday

Posted

When the calendar turns to September, there’s a feeling of sugar beet harvest in the air.

And on script, the early dig of sugar beets in Western Sugar Cooperative’s Lovell Factory District starts Tuesday, Sept. 8.

“We had planned to start earlier than Sept. 8,” said Western Sugar beet board member Ric Rodriguez of Powell. “But because of the slow start [to planting] last spring, it was pushed back a few days.”

Growers will deliver to selected receiving stations, open on a staggered basis across the district in the early harvest. The factory station at Lovell is open throughout the early dig.

The early dig is intended to deliver just enough beets to launch the processing campaign at the factory without putting beets at risk of spoiling in piles.

“We want to harvest enough beets [tons] to stay at least three days ahead of the factory processing,” Rodriguez noted. “During the early harvest, because of warmer temperatures, the beets won’t store for an extended period of time.”

Generally by October, cooler temperatures allow for beet storage in piles for up to 60 to 90 days.

“We have had warm temperatures in October and had to shut the harvest down or go to scheduled delivery,” Rodriguez said. “It is a balancing act for the agriculture staff to receive the beets in a fashion that allows them to store through the winter.”

Mindful of the freezing temperatures that dealt a blow to the completion of the harvest in 2019, Rodriguez said weather is always a concern, but the fall harvest forecast looks good at this time.

Sampling tests project a sugar beet crop averaging 28.6 tons per acre in the district, in line with historical averages, Rodriguez said. The sugar content is estimated to be 17%.

“[Projected] sugar content is a little lower than normal, but that can change,” Rodriguez said.

And then he added the caveat that farmers live by: “Sugar beets and harvest are a crapshoot. You don’t really know what you’ve got until it’s over.”

The regular harvest in the factory district with all-out deliveries by growers starts on Oct. 6.

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