10 September 1999

Beet crop is early

SUGAR factories are opening up to a week earlier than British Sugar planned, to receive a promising crop from a slightly reduced area.

First to open, on Sept 21, will be Bardney, Cantley and Ipswich. Last to start processing will be Kidderminster on Oct 5. Average starting date for all factories over the past decade was Sept 29, says BSs Geoff Lancaster.

Root weight, averaging 665g, is well up on the five-year mean of 536. But average sugar content of 15.94% is down on last years 17.04% at the same time.

Rain helped bulk beet and recent sunshine should now boost sugars. "It looks quite promising," says Mr Lancaster.

Total beet area is estimated to be about 2% less than last years 169,000ha (418,000 acres).