WORLAND, Wyo. — Wyoming Sugar Company had a record-breaking year despite the unseasonably warm temperatures that threatened harvest in September and October.
The growing season started off with an average amount of moisture and typical spring temperatures allowing for a normal planting window from mid-April to early May. This year, our growers planted 11,940 acres with only 40 acres of replant. The 40 acres of replant were split up between five fields that had excessive wind damage, resulting in a weak stand. Most growers were forced to irrigate their beets through germination and emergence due a sudden lack of rain as well as keep a close eye on their watering practices for the remainder of the season.
The summer months brought few moisture events but even in the face of drought, the beets were irrigated and put on mass nicely. The 2020 crop estimate was 32.5 tons per acre and with the consistently warm weather, we were on track to hit that number. Growth remained steady leading into the fall months with harvest right around the corner.
Harvest was slow but fast at the same time. At the beginning, the warm weather stuck and forced us to shut the growers off by 11 a.m. for nearly two weeks. This was not a favorable situation for WSC or the growers, but it was all we could do to keep the beets from getting too warm and putting our piles at risk. After the heat spell began to ease off, we had a few good days of normal harvest, but then a hard frost was spotted in the forecast. With receiving nearing 60% complete, our growers kicked into overdrive and sent us beets from 4 a.m-7 p.m. for 13 consecutive days to get ahead of the freeze. Overall, we finished digging our crop in about 25 days, which beat 2019’s harvest by 20 days.
WSC ended the 2020 growing season with an average of 31.9 TPA and a record-breaking, company-wide average sugar of 19.62 percent. We did come in slightly below our initial estimated tonnage but were able to harvest all planted acres.
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