British Sugar offers £3,000/ha to encourage early beet deliveries

Sugar beet growers are being offered a one-off contract to deliver beet to British Sugar’s Bury St Edmunds factory in early September, with a guaranteed return of £3,000/ha.

The new contract is designed to help the processor overcome the “unique challenges” experienced in 2022, when drought conditions led to a delayed harvest. Recent dry weather will have raised concerns of a repeat this year.

“The new contract will bring additional home-grown beet into the Bury factory earlier, to ensure sugar is available in early September, prior to the main campaign starting,” said a British Sugar notice.

See also: Neonics get green light for use on sugar beet seed this spring

Up to 1,400ha will be assigned to the new contract on a “first come, first served” basis.

To be eligible, growers must provide a minimum 5ha of beet (and up to a maximum of 50ha), over and above their usual contracted tonnage.

The beet will have to be delivered between 4 and 13 September 2023.

‘Regardless of yield’

The £3,000/ha is being offered regardless of the yield actually achieved so early in the season.

So, if the crop comes off at, say, 60t/ha, that would be worth an equivalent £50/t, while a yield of 70t/ha would be valued at £42.85/t.

The contract also specifies that anything in excess of 72.5t/ha will receive an additional £40/t – the same as the standard beet price agreed between British Sugar and NFU Sugar for the 2023-24 campaign.

A transport allowance up to 60 miles and the “local premium” will also be paid, as per the standard contract.

Best practice

Growers will be expected to adhere to best practices, so the land will need to be in an existing crop rotation and drilled before 15 April.

“To qualify for the £3,000/ha, you will also need to establish at least 80,000 plants/ha,” said a British Sugar statement. 

How popular the contract proves to be remains to be seen. One local grower said that, given the amount of spring barley that has already been drilled in favourable conditions, there may not be the extra land available on farms.

But another source pointed to a number of failed oilseed rape crops over the winter, which may free up some land for beet planting.

Anyone interested is advised to talk to their account manager, and return a DocuSign contract by Thursday 16 March.

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