How Did Michigan’s Sugarbeets Handle Near-Record Cold Temperatures?

How Did Michigan’s Sugarbeets Handle Near-Record Cold Temperatures?

Emerged sugarbeet near Reese, Mich. | Photo: Betaseed Twitter
Emerged sugarbeet near Reese, Mich. | Photo: Betaseed Twitter

The Michigan Ag Today Sugarbeet Planting Report is brought to you by Betaseed: Where research breeds confidence.

As of Monday’s crop progress report, 56 percent of the state’s sugarbeets are out of the ground. With freezing temperatures late last week and into this week, Rob Gerstenberger, Betaseed sales manager, says the crop is holding on.

“The beets survived last Friday pretty well,” said Gerstenberger. “It’s been 25 degrees, and maybe a few areas [it was] a little bit colder. So far, they have been tolerating the cold, but it may take two days or so to know for sure.”

Gerstenberger said there could be some serious damage in a few pockets where temperatures neared 20 degrees. After assessing a field, there’s still supplies for a grower to replant if need be.

“I don’t think it’s a widespread kill, so we have seed available in the market to take care of them,” he said. “There is some localized damage.”

The effects of the cold weather could last into the summer. Gerstenberger is concerned about possibly seeing a few more bolters than normal.

“After it goes through a cold period, it sometimes bolt and put up what we call a seed head—it almost looks like a weed out in the field,” he said. “The cold weather will trigger a beet to do that, so it’s possible we could see a little side effect this summer from the cold weather with more bolting.”

USDA has rated 85 percent of the Michigan sugarbeet crop to be in fair to excellent condition. The Thumb region is still a little parched. Rain that’s forecasted for this week and warmer temperatures will help push the beets along.

“They’re going to take off and grow with some warm weather and some more moisture,” said Gerstenberger.