sugar beet harvest© Tim Scrivener

Beet processor British Sugar is forecasting a bumper crop this season of more than 1.4m tonnes of sugar, as the area of beet is up by a third with the ending of European Union quotas.

The sugar beet crop this season is developing well following recent favourable recent rainfall and temperatures, with the beet harvest set to start later this week, the group added.

Sugar production last year of 900,000t was abnormally low as the growing area was cut to reduce sugar stocks, but with the abolition of EU quotas and export restrictions in October 2017, the group sees this season’s sugar crop “in excess of 1.4m tonnes”.

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The sugar beet crop area this season is up by a third to 107,000ha encouraged by higher beet prices, and this compares to the 116,000ha grown in 2014, which produced a record sugar crop of 1.45m tonnes.

The harvest for Britain’s 3,500 beet growers starts this week when British Sugar’s Newark factory in Nottinghamshire opens on 14 September, followed by Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk on 18 September, and then its two Norfolk plants at Wissington and Cantley open on 25 September.

The crop update came as British Sugar’s parent company, Associated British Foods, which is the world’s biggest sugar company with interests in Spain, China, South Africa and the UK, gave a trading update close to the end of its financial year on 16 September.

AB Foods will announce its full year detailed results on 7 November.