Beet Slice Ends in Red River Valley

Sugar beet cooperatives in the Red River Valley have finished their whole-beet slice campaign.

Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative of Wahpeton, N.D., completed its campaign May 17 after a brutally warm winter in which beet piles did not store well. “It’s been a season to learn from and hopefully never to repeat,” says Tom Knudsen, vice president of agriculture. Beets in storage continued to respire at warm temperatures, causing quality problems.

The company will continue to process additional sugar beet juice through most of the summer, which includes re-melt sugar produced out of color specifications as a result of the storage problems. Its production from molasses “desugarization” will run through much of the year, Knudsen says.

Kurt Wickstrom, Minn-Dak Farmers president and CEO, confirmed the projected payment price is still at $35 per ton for the 2015 crop beets, which is a serious decline from the $46 per ton projection made late last fall before the beet storage issues were realized. An unprecedented number of deteriorating beets were either field-applied or given to area cattle producers.

The co-op has meetings scheduled with producers in about 10 days.

Farther north, American Crystal Sugar, based in Moorhead, Minn., finished its slice much earlier. Co-op spokesman Jeff Schweitzer says factory slice completion was finished May 9 in East Grand Forks, Minn., and Drayton, N.D., factories. Slice ended May 8 in Crookston, Minn.; May 7 in Hillsboro, N.D.; and May 4 in Moorhead. This year’s projected payment remains at $44 per ton in the co-op.

The 2016 crop has been affected by the replants from frost, wind and crusting.

American Crystal planted 404,000 acres. Replants are currently at 15,000 acres, with farmer-shareholders and American Crystal staff continuing to evaluate beets. Most affected areas were on the Minnesota side of the river from Stephen down to Hitterdal.

Minn-Dak Farmers’ 2016 crop has not been as affected by frost. Wind and crust are “by far our biggest enemy,” Knudsen says. Based on current conditions, replants could be 1,000 acres out of the 115,000 acres planted.

Source: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

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