Following a disastrous 2019 harvest season, Alberta sugarbeet farmers looked for vindication as they set out to seed their crop this spring. Lantic Inc. contracted for 30,000 acres in 2020. Seeding started in late April and continued into mid-May, as irrigation water only became available in the ditches in the first week of May. Overall it was a very quiet year in regards to weather events and the need for any re-seeding.
Moisture events in early spring provided growers using wheel lines a sort of relief, as many fields received adequate moisture for germination. The early season was cooler than we would have liked, but later in the summer we started to experience typical warm sunny days with minimal precipitation. Going later into the summer, warm weather kept growers busy in terms of irrigation demands. Some acres received wind damage in early June and needed to be re-seeded, and 2,300 acres in Taber-Vauxhall were hailed around the same time. The last significant weather event occurred in late June, seeing 800 acres hailed down north of Burdett/Bow Island.
Early harvest began on Sept. 4 for Vauxhall and Taber. Harvest went very well during this time, as we only hauled what the factory could process — temperatures soared to about 30°C (86°F) on a few days. We went into the main harvest on Oct. 1, again contending with some warm temperatures that would have hindered storage conditions. Stations were run between midnight and noon every day to ensure cooler temperatures for good long-term storage. However, as southern Alberta weather does, everything flipped 180 degrees and left us with the reality of another significant frost event. Fortunately, we were much further along in terms of harvest completion and decided to take some compromised beets in an attempt to salvage the season and process the beets as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, the combination of mud load, beet tops, and frozen tissue proved to be a challenge for processing, and there has been significant discard to date.
Despite the storage challenges, Alberta growers provided 903,753 metric tons of beets, averaging 19.43% (17.76% extractable) sugar. This brings us to an average of 30.32 metric tons per acre (33.4 tons) across all areas. The Lantic Agriculturist team would like to extend a huge thank you to ag superintendent Bryan Avison for all of his hard work this season.
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