SUGAR BEET lifting is making good progress in what are generally “excellent” harvesting conditions, according to British Sugar’s Paul Bee.

Sugar contents are very similar to this time last year and the five year mean, averaging 17.39% to date, with soil and crown tares around normal at 4.9% and 9.5% respectively, he said.

Harvest progress figures show that by mid-November, 53% of beet was still in the ground, 11% in roadside stocks and 36% had been delivered to factories. “We’ve moved on a bit from there now and generally all factories have been going very well and harvest conditions are excellent.

“But as we move to the end of November and more beet is going into clamps or roadside stocks for longer term storage, growers need to be aware of frost forecasts,” he warned.

If a sustained period of temperatures below -2oC or -3oC is forecast, clamps need to be covered, with any cover removed once weather becomes warmer, he said.

Latest grower reports suggest there are very few quality concerns in lifted beet that could affect storage this winter, he added. “Crops didn’t really suffer any water stress or significant disease this season, so are in good health and are coming out of the ground in very good quality.”

Where there are potential concerns (e.g. violet root rot), Mr Bee reminded growers to only put healthy beet into longer term storage.

Independent agronomy and best practice information is available on a new industry website, www.uksugarbeet.co.uk which is jointly run by British Sugar, National Farmers Union, Brooms Barn and the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO).