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When will sugarbeet planting start in Minnesota and North Dakota?

The snow has melted and fields will be planted when they dry out and warm up, said agricultural experts at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton North Dakota, American Crystal Sugar Co. based in Moorhead, Minnesota, and Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in Renville, Minnesota.

Sugarbeet plants in a field.
Minnesota and North Dakota sugarbeet farmers are ready to plant the 2022 crop when field conditions are favorable.
Mike Spieker / Agweek
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Weather permitting, North Dakota and Minnesota sugarbeet farmers will start planting the 2022 crop by the end of April.

The snow has melted and fields will be planted when they dry out and warm up, said agricultural experts at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton North Dakota, American Crystal Sugar Co. based in Moorhead, Minnesota, and Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in Renville, Minnesota.

Farmers are ready to plant when the field conditions allow, said Mike Metzger, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative director of agriculture and research.

“The seed for this year is on the farm,” he said. Farmers picked up their sugarbeet seed from the cooperative in early April.

“We host a weeklong event called seed issue. Each of our farming operations come in and seed goes out,” Metzger said.

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The earliest farmers likely would get into the field to plant sugarbeets is the week after Easter, Metzger said.

“If Mother Nature decides to give us more precipitation, that would push us back,” he said on Wednesday, April 6.

On average, farmers who grow sugarbeets for Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative begin planting their crop the first week in May, Metzger said.

As of April 6, there was less soil moisture in fields than there was last year, he said.

“That’s expected when you went through a summer like you did last year when the faucet was off. It takes a bit to catch up,” he said.

Farther south, at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, if temperatures warm up and there are not significant amounts of rain or snow, the earliest farmers likely would start planting their crop is the third week of April, said Todd Geselius vice president of agriculture. On April 6 the soil still was cold and the forecast predicted nighttime temperatures would dip below freezing several times during the next two weeks, he said.

Soil moisture conditions this spring are more favorable than they were last year when fields were dry enough for farmers to begin planting in mid-April and nearly finished by May 1, Geselius said.

“We were kind of marginal last year. April was pretty dry. I think we’re in decent shape this year,” he said.

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Moisture conditions in the fields of farmers who grow sugarbeets for American Crystal Sugar are better than they were last year, said Joe Hastings, American Crystal Sugar Co. general agronomist. Meanwhile, moisture last fall was beneficial for tillage and good seedbed preparation for the 2022 crop, Hastings said.

“I think, in all, we're looking better than we were last year at this time,” he said.

Last year, the majority of farmers who grow sugarbeets for American Crystal Sugar Co. began planting their crops on April 29. Although farmers have planted as early as April 11, it is more typical to begin planting later in the month.

“The last couple of weeks of April, the first week of May is that sweet spot we want to be in,” Hastings said.

Bigger planters and technological advancements allow farmers to make swift progress planting, compared with a couple of decades ago, he said. For example, now, farmers no longer have to depend on markers for row placement so they can plant through the night.

“Our growers have made major investments in their planting equipment,” Hastings said. “When it’s fit, the majority of the (Red River) Valley can be planted in a week.”

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: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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