In ‘different’ year, beet growers plugging along

Posted 9/26/19

In a terse one-liner, beet grower board member Ric Rodriguez sums up the 2019 sugar beet growing season: “It’s been a little different year for us.”

And it continues.

Rain and …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

In ‘different’ year, beet growers plugging along

Posted

In a terse one-liner, beet grower board member Ric Rodriguez sums up the 2019 sugar beet growing season: “It’s been a little different year for us.”

And it continues.

Rain and cold have been all too prevalent from planting time to harvest. The early dig in Western Sugar Cooperative’s Lovell Factory District has been interrupted by rain and mud in the last week, but beet deliveries have kept the factory going.

“It’s been muddy, and a lot of guys did get shut down a couple of days,” said Rodriguez, a Heart Mountain grower and vice chairman of the cooperative’s board of directors.

“That has really been affecting us,” Rodriguez said, “but most guys are going again.”

“Weather is always an issue,” agreed Tod Stutzman, North End grower and Powell’s other representative on the co-op board of directors. “We’re just working around it.”

It’s been unbelievably wet in Lovell, Rodriguez said.

“The piling ground at the factory has been under water, and at times we haven’t been able to pile there,” he said. “But we’ve been able to limp through and keep the factory going. Most of the guys are getting their allotments in.”

Conditions are right to get a lot of beets in piles the rest of this week, said Mark Bjornestad, senior agriculturist for the company. That’s the plan to get ahead of a wet period that may be coming in the next week.

“We’ll run through Friday and have enough beets on the ground to sustain the factory for five to six days,” Bjornestad said.

The slow start to early harvest shouldn’t affect the overall schedule to begin the all-out harvest of the factory district’s 16,000 acres of sugar beets on Oct. 6.

Some cold weather (rain and snow) is forecast to come in this weekend to close out September, “but that’s not unusual,” Rodriguez said.

The crop has been about two weeks behind all year after a cold, wet planting season.

Yields during the early dig have been in keeping with predictions. Crop sampling forecasts an average tonnage for the Lovell Factory District of about 25 1/2 tons to the acre and “we’ve been getting about 25 tons to the acre in the early dig,” Rodriguez said. “That’s decent, but you hope it gets better.”

A year ago, the district averaged over 29 tons to the acre.

Comments