Lovell beet season ‘exceptional’ according to Western Sugar Cooperative official

Ryan Fitzmaurice

It’s turning out to be a great beet season, with sugar content slightly above projections in the late harvest.
In the beginning of October, preliminary numbers showed a 17 percent sugar content average. Now, according to Ric Rodriguez, member of the Western Sugar Cooperative board, the crop is looking at an 18.50 percent sugar content average.
Tonnage is also slightly above projection. A 28-ton per acre crop average was projected in early October. Rodriguez said the Lovell area crop is now at a little better than a 28-ton-and-a-half per acre average.
“We had adequate moisture in the spring,” Rodriguez said when speaking on why he thinks the crop has done well this season. “For most of this autumn we had a perfect fall. It was a moderately warm October until the final weeks.”
The only hiccup in the harvest was the final week of October, where temperatures dipped below freezing. Rodriguez said harvest was forced to shut down on Oct. 25 with 500 acres remaining to be brought in.
Those 500 acres worth of beets were all frozen, but with the weather again warming, Rodriguez said those beets are being brought into the factory currently.
“They won’t store for more than a week,” Rodriguez said. “So, the factory will be processing them pretty quickly.”
Those remaining frozen beets are the final crop needing to be brought in this harvest and only represent a portion of the total crop, with the vast majority of beets dug up and transported in good condition. Rodriguez said he projects that harvest will end this week.
Rodriguez said he estimates that 96 percent of beets were brought in before the frost.
“It was not a great amount that was frozen,” he said.
Rodriguez said factory operations in Lovell are also a bright spot this harvest.
“This year is as good as it has run in a long time,” Rodriguez said. “With the high-quality beet we’re delivering, the extractions are really good right now. We’re putting a lot of sugar in those bags.”
Overall, Rodriguez called the 2023 harvest season a success, stating that the region saw above 46,000 beet plants per acre this year, a very healthy beet plant population.
“As far as tonnage, we’re about at average, and we’re ending with a little bit better of a sugar content,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been an exceptional year for Lovell.”