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Last Friday, Michigan Sugar Company began permanent piling of its 2020 beet crop at all factories, kicking harvest into high gear.
Rob Gerstenberger, Betaseed sales manager, reports sugar content from earlier harvested beets has been above average. And cooler temperatures in the forecast are certainly welcome.
“The beets have cooled down in the soil, so they’re probably about 50 degrees or less coming out of the ground,” he said. “Putting them in a plie at that temperature should really be good for storage.”
Fields were averaging around 27.7 tons an acre last week. With chillier weather, a 29- to 30-ton average is well within reach.
“That would give [Michigan Sugar] like 4.8 million tons if they hit 30 [tons per acre], and that should equate to lots of sugar to sell,” said Gerstenberger.
Conditions in the field haven’t been too wet, making for ideal digging. Gerstenberger said it’s a stark contrast from 2019.
“Last year was terrible,” he said. It’s one that guys had a hard time forgetting—it was so wet, and they mudded through the fields and then we had to deal with some compaction issues this year. But the weather conditions we had through the summer pretty well alleviated those issues.”
With the earliest campaign start in Michigan Sugar’s history, Gerstenberger said if the weather holds, he can see harvest wrapping up within a few weeks.
“Right now, it’s perfect,” he said. “The growers in the field look like they’re making good progress. They’ve got good tonnage and high sugars. It looks like it could be a great payday for them this year.”