25 September 1998

York sugar crop light

ALTHOUGH the forecast yield for this years national sugar beet crop is in-line with the five-year average, growers near the York factory could have the lightest crop for more than a decade.

British Sugars director of agriculture Chris Carter said that the average root weight should be about 689g, with a 17.3% sugar content, but there could be a considerable regional variation in yields.

"Around York, 60% of the crop was drilled one month late, in May, because of the wet spring. This means that while in some areas the sugar beet lifting campaign got underway this week, the campaign near the processing factory at York will not begin until Oct 8 in an attempt to allow growers to boost yields," said Mr Carter.

Staff at the NFU headquarters expressed concern that the later campaign in York was part of a general shift to push growers into later and later harvesting to boost sugar output.

But chairman of the NFU sugar beet committee Matt Twidale said he was not concerned about the harvest date. He added, however, that he would like to see a shorter harvest period, in line with the French lifting campaign which ends in December, or some compensation for producers who were forced to lift beet well into the new year. &#42