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Sugarbeet harvest is on pause here in Michigan after some areas of the state were swamped with several inches of rain. This latest event coupled with showers from September have increased cercospora pressure.
“I wouldn’t say we’re looking at the disasters we [saw] in 2016 or anything like that because our growers have been pretty vigilant about spraying, but the pressure is still there,” says Rob Gerstenberger, Michigan Betaseed sales manager.
He says Betaseed’s parent company, KWS, has been working on cercospora-tolerant variety. That variety, CR+, was planted this spring in Michigan, and growers have been impressed.
“They cut the number of sprays in half,” he says. “The customers that have used them this fall are excited about it because they had a lot less fungicide spraying. When we get into these wet periods, the variety has the tolerance to cercospora and not so critical that the growers get the spray on.”
Despite that pressure, yields for Michigan beets have been phenomenal this season. According to Michigan Sugar’s latest report, finished fields have been averaging 34.5 tons per acre.
“We are on track for a record crop—we have never seen a crop this size in the fall,” says Gerstenberger. “We are going to have a record tonnage crop. Our sugars are a little diluted right now because of the excess moisture we’ve been having, but I still have hope we’re going to see some pretty good sugars yet.”
According to USDA’s Crop Progress Report Monday, 63 percent of the beets are left to be harvested. Gerstenberger says dry weather will be welcomed by growers to get the crop out while sugars are still high.