Smooth Beet Harvest a Welcome Change

Published online: Oct 13, 2020 News Emily Beal
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Source: Ag Week

After last year’s harrowing sugarbeet harvest in the Red River Valley, sugarbeet producers in the region are experiencing a smooth and steady harvest this season.

“Harvest has been really good as far as the weather is going, we've been going non-stop since Sept. 30, and my field conditions couldn’t be better. We got more done in three days this harvest compared to the 45 days we were in the fields last year. It's been nothing but a refreshing change from last harvest,” said sugarbeet producer Neil Rockstad, president of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.

Last year, many sugarbeet producers were forced to leave their crop in the fields unharvested due to the poor weather conditions. While a number of sugarbeets were left in the field, they did not negatively impact this year’s sugarbeet crop.

“The crop that was planted seemed to perform pretty well. The sugarbeets that remained in the ground certainly tied up some of the available nutrients, so it may have deprived the crop a little bit. But, overall they grew pretty well,” Rockstad said.

As for his sugarbeet yield this harvest, Rockstad’s fields have been average or very close to it. While last year’s overall beet crop was better, producers could not get into the fields to harvest them. Rockstad prefers this year's harvest, undoubtedly, compared to last.

Rockstad started his pre-piling harvest in mid-August and began full-on harvest Sept. 30. He, as well as other producers in the area, have been pleased with the overall smoothness of this harvest season.

“I have been hearing nothing but good reports from fellow producers. I think people are pleased, and the sugarbeets’ sugar content is on the high side, which is a good thing,” Rockstad said. “I think people are genuinely happy with the yield given this season and how we have had such a fluid harvest so far

Rockstad projects he will be done harvesting his sugarbeet crop within the next week; that is, if he does not encounter any roadblocks. One potential delay for producers could be the possibility of a heat shutdown. When sugarbeets are harvested and taken in, their roots must be within a certain temperature range. If the sugarbeets’ roots are above the desired temperature and put into a pile, there is major rotting potential for the entire pile. In addition, the target temperature also makes the crop viable for long-term storage.

“Having a heat shutdown would mean a delay, but overall, this harvest season has been going so smoothly and producers are pleased, it has been a welcomed change,” Rockstad said.