Sugar beet yields rise 4% after longest European harvest

Sugar beet yields from the 2019 crop rose 4% above their medium-term average, after British Sugar’s last plant closed last month to mark the longest known uninterrupted European harvesting campaign.

The group’s four factories processed 7.77m tonnes of beet, giving an average yield of 78t/ha, beating the five-year average of 75t/ha to total overall sugar production of 1.18m tonnes.

The processor expects a similar output this year, with a 4% rise in the beet area to about 104,000ha offset by expected lower beet yields from its 3,000-plus growers.

Beet drilling has progressed well this spring, with the majority of the crop sown before Easter for delivery in the autumn and winter to the group’s four plants at Newark in Nottinghamshire, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, and Wissington and Cantley in Norfolk.

See also: British Sugar sees higher beet area offset by lower yields

Harvesting completed

The harvesting campaign, which started in September 2019, has just finished after being delayed by wet weather, and beet slicing was slowed at Wissington and Newark to allow for late deliveries.

When the Newark factory closed in mid-April, it marked a record 208 days for a European beet harvest campaign.

Peter Watson, British Sugar’s agriculture director, said: “As we look to prepare for the next campaign, we will continue to ensure our home-grown sugar industry is among the most efficient in the world.”

UK sugar beet harvests

Year  White sugar production Beet yields  Beet area
2017 1.37m tonnes  83.4t/ha  
2018 1.15m tonnes 69t/ha  
2019 1.18m tonnes 78t/ha 100,000ha
2020 In line with last year   104,000ha
The record crop of 1.45m tonnes of white sugar was harvested in 2014.


Share your harvest photos and videos

Harvest is one of the most hectic and exciting times of year on the farm. Capture your harvest 2020 on camera and share photos and videos with us.

We want to see cool combine shots, mad weather photos and drone videos. We’ll pick our favourites to share in the magazine, on FWi.co.uk and on social media.

Enter now