SUGAR BEET lifting has made excellent progress this season and with no reports of any serious root damage – despite frost over Christmas – factory rejections have been at an “all time low”, according to British Sugar.

Less than 10% of the national crop remains in the ground, mainly on lighter soils where beet can be harvested right through the winter, said BS’s Robin Limb.

“Harvesting has gone well all season. Beet quality remains excellent in general, assisted by a good balance between clamped and freshly lifted roots.

“Rejections continue at an all time low with less than 100 loads – or 0.03% – being returned across the company to date, mainly for excess soil and trash.”

Sugar content is pleasing and is expected to average over 17% for the campaign, which is similar to last year, he said. Dirt tares are down slightly on last year at 5.2% and root purity has improved, with Amino Nitrogen at 83mg/100g of sugar, he added.

Yields have also been pleasing, with some growers recording over 70t/ha, Mr Limb said.

“Factory throughput has been at or very close to budget from the start. Wissington has broken several daily and weekly slice records, with the best 24 hour throughput at over 19,000 tonnes on 12 December.”

Despite some early problems with the diffuser at Allscott, it recovered well to peak at almost 7,000 tonnes on 16 November.

He advises growers with beet yet to be delivered to continue to monitor stores closely for overheating or peripheral frost damage and to ventilate or protect as necessary. Careful inspection during loading will also allow damaged or deteriorated roots to be removed, so reducing the risk of rejection, he said.

Growers on heavier soils should take the opportunity of any dry or frosty weather to cultivate fields destined for beet in 2006 to allow soil profiles to dry out more quickly and uniformly, he added.