Sugarbeet Report

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The Red River Valley growing conditions continue to be challenging. Joe Hastings, agronomist for the American Crystal Sugar Cooperative, has the latest crop progress report

Show Notes

Bruce Sundeen  0:00  
This is the Sugarbeet Report, bringing you the latest sugarbeet information from NDSU throughout the sugarbeet growing season. Today, a crop update from Joe Hastings, agronomist for the American crystal sugar cooperative. Joe, going into this crop year, what were you seeing for potential?

Joe Hastings  0:18  
We had a dry fall and drier winter. So we were very much anticipating the early planting, which is great for us. It really gives us a lot of potential for that sugarbeet crop we lead time with that. And that did happen. Our average planting date was earlier than the last two years and we averaged April 29 for that date. So we're very happy with that. However this current drought situation has impacted the crops potential as well.

Bruce Sundeen  0:41  
Considering the drought hasn't led up, how are the sugarbeets holding out?

Joe Hastings  0:45  
So it started this spring, we were cool and dry. And it really was tough to get even nice emerging beets. And to have even stands as critical as sugarbeets, they got a little bit gappy, different sizes. So it's very frustrating as well. We had some wind events that came up and took some more beets out. The frost events this past year, weren't they It was cold, but we didn't see that impact the beets as much as the wind and the dry soil conditions did. The heat kicked in with those wind events. And that really puts some extra stress on the sugarbeets as well. All in all, we had about 18,000 acres replanted this year, which is higher than average, past average was 9,000 acres. So we were a little bit higher than that. Granted, we have a lot of other fields with less than ideal stands and a lot of fields that didn't turn out too bad. So they're not all horrible that way. But all in all, we're sitting decent. Looking at this drought this year, we're about 40 to 50% of average rainfall, correlate that there were five to six inches short right now of rain that we haven't received to date. But one positive thing with that is we have a nice shaped root on the sugar beet it's going down 6-8 feet, access in the soil moisture can just to maintain as well as grow a bit. And they're disease-free as well. So we don't have a lot of root rot disease impacting the crop right now. But in general whole valley really needs a nice rain, a nice, good soaker, maybe a few of them to really keep this crop potential moving forward.

Bruce Sundeen  2:14  
Cercospora leaf spot was a huge problem last year, how are the dry conditions affecting disease development?

Joe Hastings  2:20  
Yeah, very, very severe year for Cercospora. And our growing region last year, which resulted in a lot of inoculum carrying over into this cropping season. So we were very concerned about that going into this year. With the dry weather conditions, we thought okay, maybe it's not going to be such a problem and probably isn't with these dry conditions. But surprisingly, we found Cercospora or the first Cercospora spots, about the same time as we did last year. So right before the Fourth of July, we started seeing the first Cercospora spots. The growers they knew from experience last year, they had to go out and get this protective fungicide application on so a lot of applications happened right prior to the Fourth of July or right after the Fourth of July this year, which is great. And that's what we've been talking about growers all winter long, we got to do a protective and be ahead of the Cercospora but not let it get rolling. And so right now, you can kind of tell when we do get some rain events or higher humidity, we have some high daily infection values on those days as well and ramps up pretty quick with the heat we've had. So just be on task, be on time and continue it so we don't want Cercospora getting established in the field.

Bruce Sundeen  3:27  
What kind of crop size estimate do you have right now? 

Joe Hastings  3:30  
Well, our initial estimate from our ag staff came in at 26.1 on July 1. So granted, you know, we're assuming average rainfall and everything going the rest of the year and we've been below average. Still, we might see that estimate dip a little bit, maybe not much. But to help us dial in this crop a little bit closer, we started taking our yield sample polls on Monday this week. We're going to get the results here later this week and see where we're at. And we're going to continue doing that throughout the remaining growing season just attract this crop and see how the drought's impact has as far as growth from week to week, etc. Just to dial that in a bit more.

Bruce Sundeen  4:09  
What do you think just a few tiny rains might do for the sugarbeet crop?

Joe Hastings  4:13  
I think it helps maintain this potential going forward. Yeah, we're able to access some moisture but it's tough moisture to get you know, we got to make it a lot easier on these beets to finish out this season. Still got that great potential of early planting dates. So they're established. But yeah, timely rains. As we saw last year, we got dry towards the end of the year. And we saw that crop potential fall off drastically. So we we need to keep it going. It'll be amazing if we could get an inch a week would be awesome right now.

Bruce Sundeen  4:43  
Thanks Joe. Our guest today has been Joe Hastings, agronomist for the American Crystal Sugar Cooperative. This has been the Sugarbeet Report, bringing you the latest information from NDSU throughout the sugarbeet growing season.

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What is Sugarbeet Report?

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