North Dakota, Minnesota sugarbeet farmers make good planting progress in late May

Dry weather allowed farmers to daily plant tens of thousands of acres

Rows of sugar beets
Sugarbeets will grow quickly when temperatures warm. This photo was taken near Mallory, Minn., during a previous growing season.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Minnesota and North Dakota sugarbeet farmers took advantage of several consecutive days of dry weather during the last week of May to get the majority of their crop seeded.

There were 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork in North Dakota and five days suitable for fieldwork in Minnesota during the week that ended May 29, 2022, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In southern Minnesota , about 95% of the crop was planted as of June 1, 2022, said Todd Geselius, Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op, based in Renville.

“We made really good progress last week,” Geselius said. “It’s unbelievable how fast they can go.”

A half inch to 2 inches of rain however, fell over Memorial Day weekend, again saturating fields, he said.


“It never fails to rain a little more where it was the wettest,” Geselius said.

Topsoil moisture in Minnesota was 70% adequate and 28% surplus, and subsoil moisture was 71% adequate and 24% surplus, as of the week ending May 29, NASS said.

Some farmers hoped to be back in the field planting the remaining sugarbeets by June 2 or 3, Geselius said. However, there was rain forecast for the night of June 3 and during the day June 4.

Farmers who grow sugarbeets for SMBSC annually plant a total of about 120,000 acres. The sugarbeet cooperative uses a system that allows additional acres to be planted based on various dates, and as of June 1, the tolerance was 90% to 120% of stock acres, Geselius said.

In North Dakota, 95% of the 2022 sugar beet crop of Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton had been planted as of June 1, said Mike Metzger, Minn-Dak Farmers Co-Op vice president of agriculture.

Farmers who grow sugarbeets for Minn-Dak were given the option of growing more acres this year through a program called “extra acres incentive.”

Minn-Dak earlier this year anticipated acreage would be 101,000, and the board authorized additional acreage up to 115,000 because of the late growing season.

Further north, 87% or slightly more than 400,000 acres, of American Crystal Sugar Co.’s 2022 crop was in the ground as of June 1, said Joe Hastings, the company’s general agronomist.


Farmers who grow sugarbeets for American Crystal Sugar Co. planted 50,000 acres a day during the week that ended May 29, Hastings said.

“When it’s fit to go, the growers have the equipment to get that crop in the ground very quickly,” he said.

Red River Valley field conditions turned wet again on Sunday, May 30, and Monday, May 30, when from 1 to nearly 3 inches of rain fell during the two days.

There is still time to get the remaining sugarbeets planted if the fields dry, Hastings said.

“We still have some days in June when it makes sense to get the beets planted,” he said. Sugarbeets were planted in June a few other years during the last two decades, including in 2013 and 2014, he said.

In North Dakota, topsoil moisture was rated 61% adequate and 35% surplus, and subsoil moisture was rated 67% adequate and 23% surplus the week ending May 29, NASS said.

Across western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, fair weather would benefit both sugarbeet fields that needed to dry so they could be planted and the fields that already were seeded.

“The ground’s warm so the beets that were seeded will be coming up quick,” Hastings said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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