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Minn-Dak expects Sept.17 pre-pile start

FARGO, N.D. -- American Crystal Sugar Co. started its pre-pile harvest on Sept. 2, with a harvest now projected at 23 tons per acre. Prospects are much better than they were several weeks ago, says Brian Ingulsrud, American Crystal vice president...

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Bob Nyquist tops sugar beets for his son, Mark Nyquist, south of Moorhead, Minn., on Sept. 1, in anticipation of pre-pile harvest at American Crystal Sugar Co. The-prepile harvest is done on a quota system to allow factories to begin to run until Oct. 1, when the full-scale harvest is expected to begin. Photo taken Sept. 1, in rural Moorhead, Minn. (Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

FARGO, N.D. -- American Crystal Sugar Co. started its pre-pile harvest on Sept. 2, with a harvest now projected at 23 tons per acre.

Prospects are much better than they were several weeks ago, says Brian Ingulsrud, American Crystal vice president of agriculture. The company's official projection, of 23.4 tons per acre, is lower than an initial projection of 23.8 tons.

Pre-pile harvest had gone well through Sept. 5, with unofficial reports from shareholders indicating yields were "generally more positive than they thought yields would be," Ingulsrud says. Rain had shut down harvest in the Moorhead, Minn., district, but all of the factory districts farther north continued to harvest.

Ingulsrud says yield is difficult to project.

"The reality is that the weather you get at the end of the season has so much of an impact," he says. "Those yield projections can change pretty quickly."

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Tom Knudsen, vice president for agriculture at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton, N.D., says his company's pre-pile harvest is expected to start Sept. 17, which is about "middle of the road" for the starting date. Full-scale harvest starts about Oct. 1, he says.

On Sept. 4, the company upgraded its yield projection to 22.5 tons per acre -- up from 20.5 tons per acre. Knudsen says more plentiful rain and continued field-checking has confirmed it.

"Things are looking rather fantastic for the rotten start we had," Knudsen says.

Recently, the northern end of the Minn-Dak region received 2 to 4 inches of rain, while Wahpeton picked up only a half-inch.

"Nobody's suffering from a lack of rain," Knudsen says, adding the "next scheduled rain would be welcome in April" 2015.

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