11 January 2002

ON OUR FARMS

EASTON LODGE

Decisions on beet awry

AS temperatures plummeted below -5C (22F) in the first week of the New Year, I am none too sure that I have made the right decisions regarding our sugar beet, writes John Lambkin. There are probably very few in this benighted campaign who have, and that includes British Sugar.

According to a fax sheet received just before Christmas, 54% of the beet contracted to the Wissington factory had been delivered. Not too much to crow about in three months!

We have fared slightly better than the average but were none the less concerned when we still had approximately 50t of beet left in the clamp from October liftings with no certainty of moving the roots before the holiday period.

However, with hauliers working minor miracles we managed to get two lorries loaded and tipped before the hard frost and the remaining beet in the clamp levelled and covered.

A proportion of the crop is still in the ground and it is that which now concerns me the most. The majority will no doubt be C beet, but the timing of the next lift will be very critical, will it store or will it need to be moved direct into the factory for processing and if so, will there be available permits?

What a way to run a business, I sometimes think we had more control and organisation over the sugar beet crop 30 years ago when we were lifting by hand and loading lorries by fork.