According to USDA’s Crop Progress Report on Monday, 52 percent of Michigan’s sugarbeets are rated in good to excellent condition. That was before the beet region received up to 2 inches of rain Sunday into Monday, bringing relief to the beets.
“We were still quite dry—we’ve been getting small amounts of rain on the east side of the growing region through the Thumb,” said Rob Gerstenberger, Betaseed sales manager. “We had a lot of beets that look good, but they were small. This rain is going to help add to our tonnage.”
If more timely rains come, Gerstenberger said that will certainly help yields. However, growers will need to keep an eye out for cercospora.
“Now that we have this moisture, we want to encourage growers to continue to spray for cercospora going forward because we’re still at risk of having some infection,” he said. “The growers have been doing a great job keeping their beets protected from the disease.”
Frost damage in May caused many growers to replant their beets. Gerstenberger said Michigan’s beets have established good stands. He also added that there’s not been much disease pressure on the crop.
“Not a lot of root disease, a little bit of rhizoctonia, Aphanomyces, but I don’t think it’s higher than normal,” said Gerstenberger. “I expect the growers are going to have nice yields this fall, especially if moisture continues.
COVID has placed a lot of restrictions on agriculture as a whole. Gerstenberger said Betaseed is trying to navigate the situation going into the fall and how they communicate with their growers.
“[We’re working on] how we are going to communicate the message this fall about our varieties and what’s going on,” he said. “Be ready for some virtual [events].”
Even though the calendar just flipped to August, beet growers are already getting ready for harvest. Michigan Sugar plans to start slicing beets around the middle of August.