Frost concerns | Processing is already underway at Taber, Alta., facility
The Alberta sugar beet harvest was half finished as of Oct. 10 as growers dig about 30,000 acres of the crop.
Andrew Llewelyn-Jones, agriculture superintendant for Lantic Sugar in Taber, Alta., said harvest began Oct. 1 and is proceeding well.
“We’re going to get good yields again,” he said. “It does vary because some areas got hit pretty hard with hail this year and so their yields will be down a little bit, but there’s a lot of growers doing over 30 tonne an acre. We’re expecting our overall average to be round about 25 or closer to 26 tonnes per acre.”
Quality is not as good as growers have seen in the previous two years, with sugar content averaging 18.4 percent as of Oct. 8. Llewelyn-Jones said he still considers that “fairly decent.”
Frost warnings in southern Alberta in recent weeks require caution from growers.
Beets that have been defoliated must be dug and hauled to receiving stations that same day.
Otherwise, frost can penetrate the beet crown, leading to quick deterioration.
Frost-affected beets must be processed quickly to avoid quality loss.
Growers deliver to one of seven receiving stations. Those piled in areas other than Taber are later trucked to the Taber factory.
Llewelyn-Jones said he expects the entire crop will be processed by the second or third week of January.
Processing at the factory started Oct. 5, slightly later than usual because of fewer acres contracted by the company this year.
Last year, growers harvested 827,434 tonnes of sugar beets with an average sugar content of 19.1 percent.