Warm, dry weather has allowed area growers to get into the fields and start planting the 2021 sugarbeet crop. With near-perfect planting conditions, acres are being planted at a rapid rate.

Last week, Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative announced its farmers were 90% completed. The week prior, Todd Geleslius, vice president of agriculture at Southern Minnesota, had expected the co-op to be 50% completed by early last week.

Growers with Wahpeton-based Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative were roughly 61% complete late last week. Planting progress was brought to an abrupt halt Sunday, April 25, as most of the growing area received a wintery mix of snow and/or rain, explained Mike Metzger, vice president of agriculture and research at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative. A general half-to-three quarters of an inch of precipitation fell through the heart of the growing area.

The ag staff had a busy end of the week staying on top of GPS measurements, seed delivery and planter adjustments, said Metzger. Stands are being established on the ‘pre-cold snap’ beets and those that have yet to emerge still appear healthy.

Metzger also noted that seedbeds continue to be in terrific shape for most growers, the cover crop is emerging and establishing well, and pre-emerge herbicides that were applied last week ahead of the forecasted rain should be activated.

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Although the replant window is far from being closed, there have not been any acres reported to date.

American Crystal Sugar growers have also been busy the last week. As of Friday, April 29, the cooperative was 72% completed.

“Most of that was planted this week,” said American Crystal Sugar Company general agronomist Joe Hastings. “It’s been a great progression to get the crop in. It’s nice to see this much get planted in April.”

Hastings noted that the Crookston district was 87% complete with the Drayton district 72% complete. The Hillsboro district was nearing 70% on Friday.

“The southern valley, including the Moorhead District, is probably a little bit behind other areas of the valley right now, but it’s not too bad overall. They are at 47% completed,” added Hastings.

By the middle of this week, Hastings said he expects planting to be mostly wrapped up.

“There might be a few areas and few fields left, but I don't expect there'll be much, which is great. Crop potential for April through the first couple days of May is wonderful” he said.

Nationwide, 81% of the expected sugarbeet acres had been planted as of May , according to the USDA Crop Progress report. That is up from 44% the week prior, 47% last year, and the five-year average of 51%.