Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sugar Beets Going Full Speed

Near Parma-Putnam photo
Roundup Ready Spiking Beet yields; Tight Supplies Boosting Prices
Nampa--With beet prices in the dumper last year, many Idaho farmers planted cash crops like hay, wheat,corn and potatoes. Stubborn farmers that that stuck to their guns and planted beets this year are in the black while the markets for other crops are flat.

"Beets did well this year with good market prices,” said Sid Freeman of Middleton. Freeman finished harvesting last week and says the beet crop is making up for shortfalls in the others.

Idaho farmers will harvest 5.56 million tons of sugar beets, up 54 percent over last year, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service. Grower returns are higher than last year because of strong market prices.

“What's really saving us is just having a good crop, with fuel and fertilizer up we’re covering those costs in saved labor, herbicides and fuel,” said Freeman.

Total Yields for the Idaho sugar beet crop are expected to peak at 34.1 tons per acre, up from 31.2 tons last year. U.S. sugar beet yields have continued to trend higher in part because many growers switched to Roundup Ready seed varieties.
Farmers can spray all their fields with Roundup without injury to the crop. That’s decreased labor costs and also reduced fuel consumption not to mention additional herbicides. Roundup is spiking yields because other herbicides used to control weeds drastically stunt beet growth.

About 176,000 acres of sugar beets were grown this year in Idaho, Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington -- all under contract to Amalgamated Sugar Co with 163,000 acres harvested in Idaho. This year's larger crop is up an astounding 17-percent across the nation.

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