Yields are estimated at 25 to 26 tons per acre, which is above the long-term average of 22 to 23 tons per acre
Sugar beet harvest started Sept. 19 in southern Alberta, when the first of 30,000 acres of beets were dug in fields near Picture Butte, Taber, Enchant and Vauxhall.
Beets from the first fields constitute a “mini-harvest.” They will be used to get the Taber Lantic sugar factory up and running Sept. 25 so that it is ready for the full-fledged harvest scheduled to begin Oct. 1.
Andrew Llewelyn-Jones, agricultural superintendent for Lantic, said the crop looks promising.
“We’ve harvested some research beets and the quality of them has been very high, so if that is indicative of what the commercial crop will be like, we’re going to be in for a very good quality crop.”
Yields are estimated at 25 to 26 tons per acre, above the long-term average of 22 to 23 tons per acre, he added.
Warm southern Alberta weather reduced beet digging hours last week. Beets deteriorate more quickly at piling stations when it’s hot.
Daytime temperatures in the teens and lows above freezing, without rain or snow, would be ideal for beet harvest, but last week daytime temperatures were in the high 20s.
Llewelyn-Jones said ventilation systems will be used in piles at Taber, Vauxhall and Burdett to preserve beet quality as long as possible once all piling stations are open and full harvest is underway.
“We’re expecting a large crop and we don’t want to take any chances with storage, so we’ll try to ventilate as many beets as we can.”
Bales will also be placed on the piles to keep them cooler until they can be processed.
The Taber sugar plant and piling station personnel include 300 employees for beet harvest.