31 October 1997

Beet yields up, but sugar down

SUGAR beet yields are running higher than last years near record output, but sugars are slightly down and are likely to stay that way.

About 25% of the crop was processed by last weekend, says British Sugars Peter Williams. "Based on field sample results, crops look as though they could be bigger than last year." But colder weather will slow growth, so firm forecasts are not possible, he adds.

Sugar contents have peaked at 18%, and further rises are unlikely. The average for the campaign stands at 17.75%, 0.25% below last years overall average.

lSugar beet growers concerned about the level of management required to store big crops through the winter are being targeted by British Sugar in a "Focus on Beet Storage" initiative.

Central to the effort is a series of demonstrations aimed at encouraging good practice, including frost protection and temperature monitoring.

The industry has come a long way since the severe winter of 1991, when over 100,000t of beet was written off due to frost damage, stresses Christ Carter, BS director of agriculture. "But there is still a lot more we can do."

Savings of over £18 a day on a typical 500t clamp, or £70/ ha on a 50t/ ha crop, are possible, says BS. &#42