Sidney Sugars Harvest Still Looks Strong

Published online: Oct 16, 2019 News Amy Efta
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Source: AgriNews

Despite weather setbacks, Sidney Sugars' sugarbeet harvest is forging ahead and boasting solid numbers this year, with 90,000 tons on the ground as of Oct. 9.

Duane Peters, agriculture manager with Sidney Sugars, said harvest officially started on Sept. 27 in Culbertson, where they saw less moisture this fall than surrounding areas.

“The last couple of years we’ve started the factory earlier due to the size of the crop and the amount of acres we’ve had,” Peters said. “But looking at the acres this year and the size of the crop, we thought if we could start around the 20th of September, that would be a nice time to start.”

“The growers got out and started digging,” Peters said. “They actually found some fields that were harvesting really good. It wasn’t as muddy as they thought it was going to be.”

From Oct. 7 up until noon on Wednesday, Oct. 9, before the snow shut people down, Peters estimated roughly 90,000 tons of beets on the ground.

“They did a tremendous job harvesting. I can’t commend the growers enough for this. It’s been a struggle,” he said. “It’s not fun harvesting in the mud.”

Peters highly praised area producers for perseverance and for crop quality despite conditions. Beets are averaging about 17 percent sugar and are expected to average out at around 17.5 percent. Sugar content typically rises as harvest goes on. Average tonnage per acre is projected around 31.5, with some producers averaging closer to 37 tons per acre and some reporting 26 tons per acre.

“We’re definitely seeing some variance here. Again, I think that’s more weather-related and soil-related,” Peters said. “We haven’t seen a lot of sunshine… These beets need sunshine. That’s how they grow.”

Harvest time usually means strained traffic around the area and Peters reminded people to slow down, share the road, be patient and don’t crowd the beet trucks.

The recent snow shutdown is expected to last a couple days. Peters said they will keep an eye on temperatures and if sugar beets frost, they will let them heal before digging again, hopefully within a few days.

“That’s our next hiccup we are kind of worried about,” he said. “I can’t thank the growers enough. They’re battling it this year.”

That battle started last spring with area flooding and continues with unexpectedly harsh weather conditions. Currently, beet harvest is about 9 to 10 percent complete, which is slightly behind schedule. By now, it should be 15 to 20 percent complete. As always, Peters said they are aiming to wrap up beet harvest by the end of October. Regardless of delays, the crop is still comparable to previous years.