By Tom Collins
CHATHAM — Sugar beet yields were average this year, but since there was so much concern about the crop during the summer, an average year is awesome, said the chair of the Ontario Sugar Beet Growers’ Association (OSGA), a co-op for Ontario growers.
“It was a struggle getting it planted, but over the course of the summer, we had excellent growing weather because the yields and the sugar are phenomenal,” said Rob McKerrall. “The major concern was not getting them in early (because of wet weather in the spring). That put some stress on guys. But once they got it in, it came up well, the stands were excellent, and then Mother Nature took over and now we’re reaping the benefits.”
The sugar beet harvest was about 60-70 per cent completed as of Oct. 30, and growers were yielding 30-plus short tons to the acre, said McKerrall. That’s an average yield, but in a growing season like this one, that’s also an excellent harvest, he said. “I think everybody should be satisfied with what they’re getting,” he said.
The sugar content was around 17 to 18 per cent, slightly above average.
Keeping the beets disease-free also ensured a great crop this year. “People are becoming more aware and more attuned to getting out and spraying at the proper time,” McKerrall said.
There are about 80 Ontario farmers growing 10,000 acres of sugar beets, mostly in the Chatham-Kent and Lambton areas. All the growers have contracts with the Michigan Sugar Company, which turns the beets into white sugar.
Ontario sugar beet growers are part of a co-op, so they don’t receive payment for sugar beets until almost a year after harvest, once the crop has been turned into sugar and sold. The price for this year has yet to be determined, said McKerrall.
Sugar beet growers happy with average yield
By Tom Collins