Pat on back for good job

21 April 2000




Pat on back for good job

APRIL has seen the arrival of three important letters from British Sugar.

First was the 1999/2000 campaign records which have been reproduced in the tables on this page. Second was to include the April beet payment invoices and the third was the long-awaited announcement from the NFU and BS on the successful conclusion of their negotiations of the sugar beet supply contract for the industry.

The latter was, of course, the most important and on which hinges the prosperity for all of us involved in the production and processing of sugar beet.

Congratulations must go to Matt Twidale and his team from the NFU for their tenacity and courage during the years of negotiation. The detail of the new Inter-Professional Agreement will be outlined to us all later in the year, but judging from a précis of the key points the most important issues would appear to have been addressed.

The payment to growers for sugar extracted from crown tare is a real breakthrough and long overdue. The payment of a purity bonus linked to Amino N is also a move in the right direction although at Easton Lodge we would need to address our high figure for last season if we are to qualify for the future.

More money for the 1990/2000 crop will be welcome and help counter the debit balance for the 1998/99 crop. Earlier factory opening dates, extra contract tonnage, an outgoers scheme and an unblocking credit which British Sugar has agreed to waive all add up to a package worth more than £4m in increased payments to growers.

We shall wait and see, but there will be a price to pay which will no doubt be revealed. Where there are bonuses there are usually penalties, with commitment will no doubt come quality assurance and traceability schemes and contract performance will become more and more important. I shall be interested to read the fine-print in due course.

The April payments for the 1999/00 crop, like the curates egg, are good in parts, with an increase in the interim price for A and B beet of 37p/adjusted tonne but a poor prognosis for the value of C beet. The debit balance for 1998/99 is, I hope, the last nail in the coffin for that year, when too large an area meant too much C beet and a gross margin well below average.

But what of our physical performance? The diagram shows Easton Lodge compared nationally and, bearing in mind our constraints of soil type and moisture, I am well pleased with our sugar beet yield and contract achievement.

That was produced from the lowest crop area for nine years, but still resulted in 439t of C beet. Beet purity is clearly a problem with an Amino N level of 164. That is the highest reading for four years. This year our score was 15 compared with 52 last season and leaves room for improvement.

Our land is dressed heavily with pig manure in the autumn and ploughed down, but, since that is such a variable product, we top up with 80-100kgN/ha (64-80 units/acre) in the spring.

Beet cleanness has improved from a dirt tare of 7.1% in 1998/99 to 4.9% last year giving us a score of 55. Our national performance has risen six points over the past year to 64. "Tries hard but could do better", where have I heard that before?

Table 1 illustrates our local performance and table 2 our 10-year vital statistics. &#42

Table 1: Easton Lodge – local comparison

Sugar beet yield Contract Beet purity Dirt tare

(adj t/ha) achievement (%) (Amino N) (%)

Top 10% average 77.73 193.9 72 3.3

Easton Lodge 66.52 149.9 164 4.9

Bottom 10% average 37.37 103.2 205 7.8

Table 2: Easton Lodge – 10-year sugar beet performance

Year 99/00 98/99 97/98 96/97 95/96 94/95 93/94 92/93 91/92 90/91

Contract tonneage 880 880 880 880 880 880 880 880 880 880

Unwashed weight 1,368 1,433 1,847 1,139 932 1,178 1,420 1,397 1,055 733

Clean weight 1,202 1,243 1,616 982 824 1,043 1,169 1,177 873 597

Adjusted weight 1,319 1,472 1,800 1,179 785 1,158 1,283 1,305 920 634

Surplus/shortfall +439 +592 +920 +299 -95 +278 +403 +425 +40 -246

% Contract tonnes 149.9 167.3 204.5 134.0 89.2 131.6 145.8 148.3 104.6 72.0

Dirt tare % 4.9 7.1 6.0 6.5 4.9 5.9 10.4 9.6 12.6 11.6

Top tare % 7.2 6.1 6.6 7.3 6.6 5.6 7.3 6.2 4.6 7.0

Total tare % 12.1 13.2 12.6 13.8 11.5 11.5 17.7 15.8 17.2 18.6

Crop area 19.8 25.6 24.4 24.1 21.0 26.4 22.5 23.1 25.5 19.6

Clean yield/ha 60.64 48.49 66.16 40.67 39.23 39.50 51.77 50.95 34.23 30.44

Adj yield/ha 66.52 57.43 73.70 48.83 37.39 43.86 56.84 56.49 36.09 32.33

No of loads 53 58 81 48 39 49 59 62 47 38

Av clean wt 22.69 21.44 19.95 20.45 21.13 21.28 19.81 18.98 18.57 15.70

Sugar % 17.10 18.00 17.30 18.20 15.50 17.20 17.10 17.20 16.60 16.70

Amino N 164 118 127 133 216 130 116 105 223 270

Contract miles 48 48 48 72 72 72 72 72 72 12

First delivery 28/10 27/10 3/11 11/11 31.10 24/10 12/10 19/10 6/11 14/11

Last delivery 17/1 1/2 16/2 24/2 12/2 23/1 17/1 18/1 6/2 8/1


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