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Sugarbeet Harvest Prepile: What to Expect

Sugarbeet harvest in the Red River Valley. Courtesy of Amity Technology
Sugarbeet harvest in the Red River Valley. Courtesy of Amity Technology

The sugarbeet harvests in Minnesota and North Dakota are gearing up to begin around August 15th, weather permitting. This year, the crop saw an earlier planting compared to the previous year, averaging several weeks ahead. Furthermore, the majority of the crop acres are showcasing good to excellent plant populations. Given the timely rainfall, these positive factors hint at promising crop yields for 2023. Processing beets in the late summer months, namely August and September, tends to reduce the risk of spoilage and serious quality losses compared to processing in the late spring.

Strategizing for Maximum Harvest Profitability

Field selection is paramount for peak profitability during prepile. While crop insurance implications are pivotal in decision-making, I won't delve into it here. This decision remains best in the hands of growers, insurance agents, and cooperative representatives.

Cooperatives typically aim to maintain a 3–4-day beet supply ready for processing. Challenges arise with high harvest temperatures, making beet storage beyond 48 hours problematic, or wet conditions halting the harvest and dwindling beet supply. However, cooperative agricultural teams, backed by their extensive experience, are equipped to mitigate these weather-related challenges. An astute field selection during the prepile phase can optimize both tonnage and quality premiums.

Key Considerations for Field Selection:

While it's usually advisable to harvest headlands and strike-outs on all fields before stockpile harvest, this might not always be the most profitable strategy. Instead, considering the factors listed above and harvesting entire fields can notably enhance profitability.

Remember Safety This Harvest Season

As always, farm safety is paramount and especially critical at harvest. See my blog Safety First for helpful reminders for preventing accidents this fall.

Dr. Al Cattanach

Director of Agronomy

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