6 November 1998

Beet growers beat rain

SUGAR beet growers are coping with wet conditions admirably, says British Sugar.

By Oct 31, 23% of the expected crop was delivered, and 7% was in store on farm. Last year 3% more had been delivered, thanks to a week earlier start, says BSs Geoff Lancaster. Sugar content averaged 17.9% last week, 0.3% up on the previous week, but 0.2% down on last year.

Worst affected by the weather is Kidderminster factory. "If growers are struggling to meet schedules, we will readjust delivery dates," says agricultural manager, Colm McKay. So far production has not been interrupted, but the next 2-3 weeks will be critical, he says.

One grower benefiting from the wet is Tony Symonds of Lincombe Farms, Stourport, Worcs. Lifting difficulties elsewhere forced an early factory call for all his 53ha (130 acres) of beet. Normally his deliveries run into January. "It is fantastic. We can get on with ploughing and planting winter cereals now."