19 January 1996

Beet outlook good

UP to 70% of sugar beet growers are set to make quota this season, 20% more than predicted at the start of the campaign, according to British Sugars latest estimate.

"As the weeks go by it is looking more healthy," says agricultural director Chris Carter. "Last September I was concerned half the growers may have failed to make contract. It looks as if that has fallen considerably, perhaps to around last years 30%."

Delaying factory opening by three weeks allowed crops to put on yield, he explains. And BSs "just in time" harvesting, which halved roadside stocks, and "quality" harvesting programme, which identified field losses, helped boost delivered tonnage further.

Some 6.24m tonnes of beet had been processed by the start of this week, with 1.65m tonnes remaining in clamp. Just 180,000t, 2% of the crop, was still growing.

Sugar output is forecast at over 1.2m tonnes, 100,000t down on last year but ahead of the 1.144m tonnes national quota.