Hot, smoky growing season still ends up with above average crop for Wyoming Sugar Company
The company had estimated yield at about 31 tons per acre before harvest, but by Nov. 5, Huber figured that number, in reality, would end up being about 32. Sugar content was just over 19%.
After a hot, dry growing season, things changed quickly for Wyoming Sugar Company.
"Coming into harvest, we got really wet," said Kadan Huber, agriculturalist for the company with grower-owners in Washakie, Big Horn and Fremont counties in Wyoming.
The area has a lot of bentonite in the soil, Huber explained. That means the soil "slicks up and causes problems really quick," he said.
In 2020, harvest was over by Oct. 24 as growers hustled to get beets out of the ground after a hard freeze, Huber said. In 2021, the wet conditions delayed digging initially. But a string of good weather at the end of October and early November, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s, meant growers were nearly wrapped up by Nov. 5. Huber expected the company to be completely done by Nov. 8 at the latest.
The company had estimated yield at about 31 tons per acre, but by Nov. 5, Huber figured that number, in reality, would end up being about 32. Sugar content was just over 19%.
Planting on the company's 11,980 acres began on Easter. It got really cold right after that, Huber said, and a couple farmers who already started irrigating were a little worried about having to replant. In the end, only two fields had to be replanted.
After what was initially a cold spring, the weather turned abnormally hot, and the region also had to contend with smoke from wildfires.
"We had a pretty steady, hot growing season," Huber said. "It was really smoky here for quite awhile and we don’t know exactly how that plays into the overall scheme of things."
The company's acres are 100% under irrigation. Still, the impact of the pervasive drought on the region did have some impact on growers. Huber said snow cover melted off sooner than expected, and Fremont County growers were concerned their irrigation water may get shut off.
But the taps stayed on for the season, and Huber said it appears the harvest results will come out just under those of 2020, which had been a record for tonnage and sugar content at Wyoming Sugar Company.