29 October 1999

Sugars up as beet campaign settles

HARVESTING and processing this seasons huge sugar beet crop is going well with the nine factories working flat out to slice about 75,000t a day, says British Sugar.

Despite heavy rain in September dirt tares are low and after a poor start sugar contents are improving.

"So far so good," says BSs Robin Limb. "As of last Saturday 76% of the 180,000ha crop was still in the ground and 6% in clamps, compared with 75% and 5% at the same time last year. Processing is also up to schedule, with 18% of the overall tonnage now through the factories, the same as last year."

One of the few regional differences is area harvested. Kidderminster is only 82% lifted compared with 75% at Cantley, Norfolk, and 71% at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Later factory opening is blamed.

Average sugar content so far is 16.8% compared with 17.5% in 1998. But last weeks 17.2% average was just 0.5% down on last year. Highest sugars are in the north, with York, Newark and Bardney averaging close to 17%.

"So far the national sugar-adjusted yield is running at 57t/ha, which is higher than in 1998, but not quite up to the record breaking 1997 crop," says Mr Limb.

High dirt tares during the wet start have fallen back to give a campaign average of 5.33%. Last weeks 4.59% average was almost 1% lower than the corresponding week a year ago. The only factory with higher dirt tares is Ipswich, its 7% reflecting heavier land and autumn rain.

Beet purity is good, with amino-N rated 108 compared with 120 a year ago, mainly because the crop kept growing and was not checked by either virus yellows or drought, says BS.

"Clamps will soon be getting bigger, but because the chances of damaging frosts in November are slight they should not be covered until early December, unless frost is forecast," Mr Limb advises. &#42