EXCELLENT SUGAR beet harvesting conditions are allowing growers to make good progress across the UK, according to latest reports.

Although still at an early stage, with 3% of the total crop in clamps, the campaign is well on track and early fears over low sugar contents are diminishing, said British Sugar‘s Paul Bee.

“Harvesting conditions are good, progress is going very well.”

Average sugar contents are 16.83% and rising towards the more normal level of 17% for the beginning of the campaign, he said.

He advised growers to harvest crops as close as possible to when they are required by factories and to avoid building large roadside stocks.

With the relatively mild conditions, piles could overheat and cause quality concerns, he noted.

Lincolnshire contractor Richard Ivatt is very pleased with current progress, having cleared around 110ha (270 acres) of sugar beet so far.

“Lifting conditions are virtually ideal. All the fields we‘ve been in have had lovely even plants.”

Average sugar contents have picked up since the campaign started, with most crops averaging between 17-18%, he noted.

Crops are yielding very well and he does not expect any field to yield less than 20t/acre.

“Yields and lifting conditions are both good – long may it continue.”

Mr Ivatt said British Sugar‘s online returns service worked very well, allowing him to get crop returns back by lunchtime the following day.