Sugarbeet Report

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Sugar beet growers have been, in general, experiencing a warm and dry growing season. Mohamed Khan, NDSU and University of Minnesota Extension sugar beet specialist joins the Sugarbeet Report to discuss the growing conditions and a harvest update.

What is Sugarbeet Report?

“Sugarbeet Report” presented by NDSU Extension, features growing tips from NDSU sugar beet specialists and researchers.

Speaker 1: This is the Sugarbeet Report. Bringing you the latest information from NDSU throughout the Sugarbeet growing season. This is the last Sugar Beet Report of two-thousand twenty-one. And here to talk about this year�s sugar beet season is Mohamed Khan, NDSU Extension and University of Minnesota sugar beet specialist. Mohamed, we had a warm and dry summer. Give us a recap of the weather and how it impacted the crop in the Red River Valley and southern Minnesota?

Speaker 2: Every year is different. 2021 has been unique to date. We have been in a drought for most of the growing season and most of our production areas is in a water deficit, despite some welcomed rains in the 3rd week of August. In addition to a lack of rainfall, August was the 2nd warmest that made producing a crop very challenging. We can easily lose 15% or more of the sugarbeet crop under drought conditions. Fortunately, sugarbeet roots go very deep into the soils to tap residual moisture. As such, although it was extremely dry and very warm, growers were still able to produce a sugarbeet crop. Estimated tonnage will probably be lower in the northern end of the Valley where it was driest and highest in southern Minnesota where they have had more moisture. Sugar concentration will be highest in the northern valley, currently just under 17%, and acceptable in southern Minnesota, currently about 15%.

Speaker 1: We know that Cercospora leaf spot has been a serious and costly problem for sugarbeet growers for several years. How have the producers managed Cercospora leaf spot this year?

Speaker 2: Growers have done great job of managing Cercospora leaf spot in 2021. Growers were timely in applying fungicide mixtures to fields where the more susceptible varieties were planted. In some areas such as in Minn-Dak and southern Minnesota, growers planted CR tolerant sugarbeet which required less but timely fungicides. Overall, growers are already starting to see the economic returns of managing Cercospora since the sugar concentration of the early prepile harvest is significantly higher than in the past five years.

Speaker 1: How is the pre-pile harvest going?

Speaker 2: From all the reports from the sugar cooperatives, the prepile harvest is going well. There were some rains for when prepile was scheduled which delayed the opening of some piling stations and factories. In anticipation of the rains, growers have heeded the call to harvest before the rains so that the factories have enough beets to process during the wet periods. All 7 of the sugarbeet factories have started processing with no major issues and we hope to continue this trend until next May.

Speaker 1: It is our last show of the season. Mohamed, what words of advice would you like to leave for the producers and factory workers?

Speaker 2: We have to remember that we are still in a pandemic and we need to continue to take all precautions to safeguard ourselves as well with whom we come into contact. I encourage we all become vaccinated if we have not already done so, social distance, wear a mask to protect others and ourselves from the more infectious variants, wash our hands regularly and use mid-westerner commonsense to make sure each one of us do our part to stay healthy. Our people are our greatest assets - we need to stay safe and healthy as we do our part in once again fulfilling our sugar quota. Please be extra careful when transporting beets, especially under wet conditions, and stay safe. Wishing you a bountiful harvest.

Speaker 1: Thanks Mohamed! Our guest this week has been Mohamed Khan, Extension Sugarbeet Specialist at NDSU and the University of Minnesota. This has been the Sugarbeet Report. Bringing you the latest information from NDSU throughout the Sugarbeet growing season.