By Tyler Grove MOORHEAD, Minn. – With planting commencing the week of April 12th, 98% of acreage was planted by May 16th, wet and snow conditions (up to 8" in the north) held planting back a few days which resumed and wrapped up by the end of May. The average planting date for the 2017 crop was May 2nd, four days ahead of our 10-year average planting date. Seedbed conditions were better than average in all districts, a pleasant surprise considering extreme wet conditions last fall in our northern districts (East Grand Forks, Minnesota and Drayton, North Dakota). Overall, drier soil conditions with decreased precipitation compared to last year warranted no major concerns of root diseases or insect pressure. Weed control progressed nicely with some newer areas showing new resistant weed arrivals, primarily waterhemp, and common ragweed. Cercospora Leafspot has shown increased resistance to available fungicides in recent years. We have witnessed two high pressure Cercospora years in a row, with concerns once again this year. Growers were armed with a list of Cercospora management notes and a spray program consisting of tank mixes, fungicide rotations, and increased water volumes to best offset this damaging leaf disease, and overall control was deemed good.
Prepile Harvest was initiated on August 15th, the second earliest date on record. Conditions ranged from wet to dry and maintaining inventories between showers and heat was a challenge for staff and shareholders. Full stockpile harvest was initiated on September 30th lasting 24 days. At the completion of harvest, the crop yielded 30.2 tons per acre with 18.11% sugar and a 1.0 % SLM (Sugar Loss to Molasses), which equated to an RSA (Recoverable Sugar per Acre) of 10,328 lbs., a new record surpassing the previous year’s record. Final stand count was also a new record at 206 beets per 100 feet of row, as too was a new record of the lowest impurities of 1.0% SLM. The 2017 crop was the largest crop harvested by the company at just over 12 million tons received, surpassing the 2006 crop for total tons received.