Growers in the Amalgamated Sugar Company area of Idaho have had to replant over 63,000 acres of sugarbeets this spring.
One of the worst spring weather situations with back-to-back cold nights on May 8-9 caused the company to lose beets from the Blackfoot, ID, area on the north to the Paul and Rupert areas on the south, according to John Schoor, Mini-Cassia area district ag manager.
Leonard Kerbs, ag manager of the Twin Falls District, says growers there have had to replant 10,000 acres. Other growing areas of the company have also had to replant acres, but they have been described “as just a few here and there.”
Schoor said it is the highest number of acres replanted in company history. He says record go back into the mid-1970s. On top of this, Schoor says there are still some growers who are “waiting this thing out” to see if additional replants are needed. These should be determined in a few days.
Schoor says the frost was indiscriminate of variety, area, water-moisture content of the soil, and stage of growth. He said a hard, cold wind blowing most of the day weakened the plants—even those with four or more leaves—making them susceptible to the frost.
“Usually water protects them 99 percent of the time. But is also depends on the temperature (some were in the high teens) and the dew point,” he stated.
The district has 125,000 acres so the replant figure is at 41 percent. Schoor says he is encouraging growers to go right back out and replant. “I think if we can get them replanted by Memorial Day, they’ll be all right. It just depends on the weather,” he added. Estimated cost of the replanted acreage would total over $750,000.
“We won’t be barn-burned with this crop. It should be adequate and decent,” he said, commenting on the fact that yields will certainly be affected.
“If you could tell me what the weather will be like for the rest of the year, even if we get half decent weather, we’ll get a decent crop. It won’t be a bumper crop by any means but I think we can still get a pretty good crop. If we have a cool, damp summer it will have an effect.”
Potato planting, which always follows beet planting, was delayed enough Idaho potatoes were not frozen. However, unlike beet plants which are killed, frost just “burns back” potato leaves and the plants keep growing. Very few potatoes had emerged to have been affected by the early May cold temperatures.