Boise—The 2019 Beet crop was a roller coaster ride all season. Cold wet weather delayed planting but when the sun came out they planted…in just a 5-day window in April.
“A few acres got planted and they did well,” said President Galen Lee of Nyssa-Nampa Beetgrowers Association and past President of the American Beet Growers Association.
“We started out with harvest things were going really good then the October forecast came and someplace at single-digit temperatures, some places even lower, in the middle of October! So that was a real challenge. You can’t pile the beets if they’re frozen. So we had to let them sit in the field and harvest was suspended across the state for five days. Then once the beets thawed out so we could store them, we started to harvest again," said Lee.
Lee says across the state, the tops of the beets were frozen, and hard if not impossible to defoliate.“It was a challenge trying to get the tops off. We had to over a few times with a defoliator. We really had slow down and sometimes make a couple of passes to get the tops off whatever we had to do, but we did, we got the crop in so most all of the beets were harvested here,” said Lee.
But while Idaho growers barely squeaked by, other parts of the country were not so lucky.
“Across the country, there are about 170-thousand acres that are not going to be harvested this year,” said Lee. That's about the size of Idaho’s Amalgamted’s total acreage. To put it in perspective, that's the same as a mile wide strip from Pocatello to Boise. So that many beets are going to be left in the ground this year across the country. We were fortunate in Idaho, we got our beets out, we had challenges but not like the Midwest.”
Mexico, under the agreement, will make up sugar supply shortfalls, market prices will be up from last year and despite a late start, the quality of the 2019 crop is still good.
“Yields are about average, it wasn’t record-breaking but average. Like I said the beets made up for lost time this summer. It was average, happy for that, it could have been worse,” said Lee.
Preliminary numbers show that yields are average 39 tons per acre, but the sugar content is good 16 to 17 percent. And his year's crop should top 177-thousand acres in a season of highs and lows.