UK sugar beet yields hit record levels

Sugar beet growers are celebrating record beet yields from the 2017 harvest, following favourable weather throughout the season, as the lifting campaign came to an end just before Easter.

Some 8.9m tonnes of sugar beet were processed through the four British Sugar factories, with the final average yield of 83.4t/ha, a significant increase on the previous record of 79.8t/ha.

The mild, late spring enabled plants to emerge fairly quickly after drilling and the wet summer and autumn, which frustrated many cereal growers at harvest, helped the beet crops to fill out and gain weight.

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Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, was delighted with the record yields produced by growers across the country.

“I am hugely proud of the record yields we’ve seen from our home-grown sugar beet and we continue to be one of the most efficient sugar industries in the world,” he said.

“We simply couldn’t do it without our 3,500 growers and 9,500 people who work across our supply chain. We’ll now focus on getting ready for the next campaign and making further improvements,” he added.

The total growing area of sugar beet within England and Wales during the 2017 season was more than 105,000ha, with the beet processor producing about 1.38m tonnes of sugar from its plants at Cantley and Wissington in Norfolk, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and Newark in Nottingham.

The British Beet Research Association (BBRO), which is jointly funded by British Sugar and sugar beet growers, have been striving to improve crop productivity and have seen a subsequent yield increase of 25%, in the past decade.

This season, many growers on the most fertile soils have seen yields of over 100t/ha.