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Idaho sugar beets: record year

KUNA—“We on our farm have an incredible beet year, the best sugar we have ever had,” said Ada County farmer Tyler Reynolds.

In the year of COVID and a severely challenged season, Idaho’s sugar beet farmers finished the season with their second highest-yielding crop, ever. Sugar beet growers Association President Galen Lee:

"I look at it, like the growing the conditions we had, we got the beets in early this spring especially on our side of the state," said Galen Lee, President of the Beet Growers Association. "Growing conditions were good we got those crops in the ground, got the beets in and they started growing and did well. Later in the year we didn’t have prolonged periods of smoke that sometimes we have. We had a few short periods, but not like a month that we sometimes do. We didn’t have extreme periods of 100-degree heat for 15 or 20 days, we just had a few days. So I think a combination of all of that, plus the abundance of water we kept the water there, the nutrients there and I think it paid off,” said Lee.

It Paid off big time, with more beet tonnage per acre and sugar content off the charts: Beet Co-ops say it’s possible that this year’s crop will yield the most finished sugar in history.

"Our farm average is going to be about 18.3-percent. You know these newer genetics are definitely better. Our old, traditional, what we figured on for budgets, the average was closer to 15-percent and a half. So it's pretty wild to have over 18-percent sugar on beets," said farmer Tyler Reynolds.

180,000 acres of beets were planted this year. Farmers harvested 40.5 tons of beets per acre. Topping last year's 41.4 tons average per acre. The beets averaged 18.4 percent sugar content on average. Just barely below the record, but Reynolds says it's all money. "So the new contract incentivizes sugar content, so any percentage over the company average you get paid accordingly," said Reynolds.