SUGAR BEET harvesting got underway last weekend (Sept 11-12) and early indications suggest good yields, though sugar contents are uncertain.

Wissington factory will be the first to open this Wednesday (Sept 15), with all others beginning their campaigns a week later.

Early indications suggest root weights are “heavy,” but sugar contents are below the five-year average, according to Paul Bee from British Sugar.

Field samples in early September found an average root weight of 736g, compared to a five year average of 664g. Sugar contents were 15.7%, against the five-year average of 17.2%.

“There is every opportunity for sugar contents to increase, therefore we could be looking at a very good crop,” said Mr Bee.

Although sugar contents are down due to heavy rain in July and August, he remained optimistic, stating that drier conditions this month were allowing contents to rise.

“The crop looks clean and harvest conditions are good at present. Overall prospects are good,” he added.

This optimism was shared by Lincolnshire contractor Richard Ivatt who started lifting 15ha from a total of 400-500ha at the weekend. “So far so good,” he said.

“Considering the amount of rain we‘ve had, it is surprising how dry it is – nothing like as dry as last year though.

“A week ago we were struggling to get the last of the wheat harvested.”

So far yields have been good, considering the season has only just got underway, Mr Ivatt commented.

He is now waiting to see how sugar contents fare, when the first load is delivered to Wissington factory on Wednesday (Sept 15).