9 January 1998

Full steam ahead for a beet processing record

SUGAR beet processing continues apace with all factories working at or above target slicing rates. Yields and quality remain high.

"We expect to process the national sugar quota by the end of this week," says British Sugars Robin Limb.

That usually takes 80-85% of the annual beet tonnage. By the start of this week, 69% had been processed, adding weight to earlier predictions by many growers of a record-breaking year.

Recently delivered beet remains in good order, says Mr Limb. "Sugars are coming down slowly, but average 17.5% for the season, very close to the five-year average."

Top tare and dirt tare are similar to earlier deliveries since most beet is coming out of stores. At 7.24% and 5.12% respectively, they are at or below the five-year average, he comments.

"Rejection rates are virtually negligible. They amount to one or two isolated incidents due to waterlogging or dirt." The former is usually due to clamps being built on apparently suitable hard headlands or similar, which have flooded during recent downpours.

Clamps should remain uncovered as long as temperatures remain above freezing, Mr Limb advises. "Too many are still covered up. Losses through enhanced respiration due to higher clamp temperatures can be significant. In extreme cases, you can end up with composting."