2013 outlook: Sugar beet

What does 2013 hold for UK farming? Farmers Weekly and farm business consultant Andersons have teamed up to provide an outlook. Today we look at sugar beet.

Sugar beet production continues to remain profitable, but pressure remains on the economics of harvesting and delivery.

“The logistics and infrastructure required to harvest and deliver 7.5m tonnes of sugar beet from 3,500 growers evenly over a 170-day campaign are complicated,” says Andersons director Nick Blake.

Key points and management advice

Logistics and structural challenges

Optimise yield

Assess on-farm infrastructure

Concentrate on effective harvesting and supply logistics

Yield is key to profitability – the effect of site selection, crop management and lifting date should all be examined carefully to ensure the optimum outcome, says Mr Blake.

“Continued co-operation between growers, harvesters and hauliers is vital to ensure efficient movement of crop. This may extend to investment in infrastructure including farm roads and storage. The wet autumn is putting pressure on all parties to ensure a clean sample is delivered to the factory.”

“It is reliant on a broad range of systems ranging from the smaller owner harvester/deliverers to full third-party systems such as the British Sugar growing scheme. It will become increasingly difficult to apply the same economic principles throughout, while maintaining a first-class service to growers and the factory.”

The pricing formula, which runs in its current form until 2014, provides an element of stability, says Mr Blake. That will help to ensure sugar beet retains its place as part of a sustainable rotation and spread risk.

Commentary based on Andersons’ Outlook 2013

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