Good weather gets credit | Bill Tamminga produced 35.09 tonnes per acre last year, which came close to the record
Victory is sweet for Bill Tamminga of Taber, Alta.
The farmer was recently named the top sugar beet producer of 2012 for achieving a yield of 35.09 tonnes per acre, which came close to the record of 35.6 tonnes set in 2006.
“I think (it was) the beautiful summer. We were blessed with a lot of nice weather, that was the main thing,” said Tamminga.
Crop rotation was also key, he added.
He grew 160 of the 30,512 sugar beet acres planted in southern Alberta last year. About 2,000 of those acres had to be replanted after a May frost, but those at Tamminga Farms escaped damage.
“We seeded early and I think they were just big enough to withstand the light frost that we had. And we had a beautiful stand, too.”
Tamminga is no stranger to agricultural awards. He has also won McCain’s top potato producer title several times.
He plans to seed the same number of acres to beets this spring and has already prepared the seed bed.
Ridging the soil in fall and then planting beets into the ridges in spring limits soil disturbance that can quickly dry the seedbed. Beets are seeded only half an inch deep.
However, Tamminga gives much of the credit for his farming success to a higher power.
“We just plant and God makes it grow. It’s all Him. Sometimes you think you’re doing the right thing and it works out opposite, but this year He blessed it and it was good.”
Vanessa Bastura, an agriculturist with Lantic Inc., which operates the Taber sugar factory and contracts all Alberta sugar beet acres, said last year’s crop was excellent overall.
Growers harvested 827,434 tonnes of beets, which have a factory calculated average sugar content of 19.1 percent, according to processing statistics compiled Jan. 29.
By that date the Taber factory had produced 110,216 tonnes of sugar and an average of 155.2 kilograms per tonne processed.
Bastura said grower prowess, improved technology and Roundup Ready beet varieties have contributed to higher yields.
“The yields are climbing up,” she said.
“If you look at the Beet King trophy … I was looking at some of the yields in the past that qualified for overall Beet King and they were in the low 20s.… Now we’re talking about 35 (tonnes per acre).”
Growers will enter the second year of a three-year contract with Lantic this year, so there is no contract negotiation pressure, she added.
“We’re seeing a lot of growers investing in equipment this year, which is nice. Guys … are getting new stuff because they’re happy with the yields and happy with the price.”
Processing of last year’s crop is expected to be complete by Feb. 15. As of last week, beets remained at the Vauxhall and Burdett dumping stations, as well as at the factory site in Taber.
All were in ventilated piles designed for longer-term storage.
The past growing season wasn’t rosy in all aspects, said Bastura.
In a report filed to the grower newsletter, she said hailstorms and a tornado damaged 4,000 beet acres, while some fields saw severe flooding and erosion in June. Wet conditions in that month and into July hampered glyphosate applications.
However, heat in July and August led the way to good yields. Beet harvest started Sept. 19 and ended Nov. 12 with some interruptions by snow, frost and mud.
Other producers in the top 10 included Rienk Vanderhoek (34.06 tonnes per acre), Egeland Farms (33.10), Andrew Van Hal and Ridgeland Acres (33.02), Randy Waddle (32.98), Frank Young (32.74), P & F Farms (32.66), David Lauwen (32.31), Zeimak Farms (32.19) and Marleen Lauwen (32.15.)