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Spreckels Sugar gets started on 2022-23 planting after cooler summer helped 2021-22 crop

Spreckels growers wrapped up harvest of the 2021-22 crop on Aug. 10. The crop yielded a lower than usual 45.4 tons per acre but higher than normal sugar, at 17.19%. Purity was 88.53%.

Spreckels harvest.jpg
Spreckels Sugar wrapped up harvest on Aug. 10, 2022, and started planting again on Sept. 12, 2022.
Courtesy / Spreckels Sugar
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IMPERIAL, Calif. — As other sugarbeet companies across the U.S. are gearing up for harvest, Spreckels Sugar in southern California is putting seed in the ground.

"Just started yesterday," said Dimitri Boratynski, ag manager at Spreckels, on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Spreckels Sugar Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, annually grows around 24,000 acres in California's Imperial Valley.

All of Imperial County, in the far southeast of California, is in severe drought as of the Sept. 8 U.S. Drought Monitor report. But Boratynski said growers there were lucky that "a nice little rain shower" came in before planting. Growers sometimes will pre-irrigate to prepare their seedbeds but most were not planning to take that step this year in order to conserve water, he said. The rain, he declared, was a "godsend" for the upcoming crop.

Spreckels growers wrapped up harvest of the 2021-22 crop on Aug. 10. The crop yielded a lower than usual 45.4 tons per acre but higher than normal sugar, at 17.19%. Purity was 88.53%.

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"We didn't quite get the tonnage, but we got the sugar," Boratynski said.

The lack of tonnage can be traced to cooler than normal weather in March 2022, he said. Usually, a heat spike pushes the growing crop along around that point in the year. But on the plus side, the area also didn't get the big heat spike they're used to in June, when Boratynski said temperatures can rise to "118-plus."

Because of that, farmers lost only 178 acres to rot at the end of the season — a lower number than would have been reported in a hotter summer. While some varieties hold up better than others, Boratynski said some beets fade quickly when the heat strikes. This summer, 23,736 acres were harvested for Spreckels.

"Overall, I thought it was a pretty good year," he said.

Related Topics: SUGARBEETSAGRICULTURE
Jenny Schlecht is the editor of Agweek and Sugarbeet Grower Magazine. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at jschlecht@agweek.com or 701-595-0425.
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