The 2020 Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative growing season got off to a good start and stayed that way for most of the growing season. Planting got started in mid-April and was essentially finished by May 1. There was one morning in early May when temperatures reached the upper 20s that resulted in about 1,600 acres needing to be replanted due to frost. The situation could have been much worse as most beets had already emerged, but the majority of acres escaped with little or no damage.

For the rest of May and throughout June, the weather was favorable with timely, moderate rains and warm temperatures. There was a significant education effort to encourage shareholders to start their Cercospora leaf spot (CLS) fungicide applications earlier than in the past. With a very good looking crop, most shareholders got their first fungicide application applied around June 20-25. This turned out to be very fortuitous as there were very high infection values around the first of July. We believe these early applications had a very positive impact in controlling the disease throughout the season.

July and August continued with timely, moderate rains and the shareholders were largely able to stay on schedule with their CLS fungicide applications. This resulted in a very good crop with CLS infections kept to a manageable level in most fields until harvest. With only a few exceptions, we can say that CLS had a minimal impact on the crop in 2020.

Prepile began on Aug. 10 to accommodate the larger crop. Prepile activities generally went well with only a few weather interruptions. The main harvest began Oct. 2 at a fast pace with relatively few weather issues until Oct. 18 when cold temperatures and a few inches of snow slowed harvest. Fortunately, by this time harvest was around 90% completed so the remainder of harvest could be managed closely.

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With a normal planting date and favorable weather for most of the growing area, the 2020 crop at SMBSC was just what was needed. Good harvest conditions allowed the 30.04 tons per acre crop to be piled in good condition. Combining these tons with a sugar content of 17.05% made for an excellent crop.

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