Sugar beet harvest season sees some challenges, still expect a good harvest

MOORHEAD, Minn. (KVRR) — Sugar beet harvest season is well underway.

Despite American Crystal Sugar seeing some challenges, they’re confident they will still have a good harvest season.

“We think we’re going to end up with right around that 12 million tons this year. We look at that as a successful year,” American Crystal Sugar Vice President of Agriculture Brian Ingulsrud said.

Due to colder temperatures in May, American Crystal Sugar says they began sugar beet planting three weeks later than usual which now leads to a late harvest season. It was the latest planted crop in the company’s history. They say they typically start harvesting on the first day of October but this year they had to wait a few days because it was too warm.

“We lost three weeks of growth with this crop. That’s really a big deal for sugar beets because they don’t have a maturity date like corn or soybeans do. They just keep growing until they can’t grow anymore. When Mother Nature kills our leaves through hard frost and the ground freezes. Taking 3 weeks away from the growing period this year was a big challenge right from the start. We added additional acres to try and make up for that later planting date and we’re pretty happy with the results of that,” Ingulsrud said.

Because of the shift, they’re not too worried about sugar content.

“We feel pretty blessed with the sugar content this year are really exceeding our expectations. We started what we call a pre-pile harvest in late August. At that time, they were some of the lowest I’ve ever seen in the high 13% range. By the time we finish here, the last daily averages are in the 19% range. That’s extremely high, part of that is due to the fact that we had a pretty dry fall here. When it gets dry in the fall, that’s a significant factor for our sugar content and that’s what we’re seeing with the dry weather driving sugar contents up,” Ingulsrud said.

Ingulsrud says he estimates the sugar beet industry has about a $5 billion impact on the Red River Valley.

Categories: Agriculture, Agriculture, Local News, Minnesota News, Moorhead, North Dakota News