What a difference a year makes. Harvest conditions have been nearly ideal for the 2020 sugar beet crop, with cool and dry weather aiding farmers in making good time.
Last fall’s heavy rains meant wet, muddy conditions that slowed progress and hindered early harvesting. Then, later in October 2019, a rapidly descending cold air mass from Canada brought early freezing conditions and snow that blanketed sugar beets still in the fields across the upper Midwest.
By comparison, conditions have been dry in 2020, allowing topsoil to drain, making fieldwork easier, and the unusually cool, dry conditions are allowing earlier work and a pace that is eclipsing last year’s, leaving it in the dust.
In the Oct. 4 USDA crop progress report, 46 percent of the crop was harvested across the four-state average compared to only 18 percent last year, when beets were abandoned in the fields and several coops declared force majeure after losing some 20 to 25 percent of their crop.