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No-till sugar beet update

Burley--In the heart of sugar beet country—Just outside of Burley the sugar beet is king and it is ground zero for high beet yield production.

Cassia County producers routinely break yield records, averaging 41 tons per acre. But there's a farmer here who’s doing something different, Farmer Ben Beck told us last summer about his no-till beet experiment. 

"You can see the corn stalks still standing up in my fields. If you plant the beats on this past year's cornfield, it plugs it up," said Beck. Beck has developed a no-till beet operation, planting beets in old cornrows. 

"The first year was high moisture corn, the second year we moved the beet rows over 11 inches in high moisture cornrows in the bottom of the first year corrugate," said Beck. 

Old cornfield residue is left behind by design keeping last years nutrients and trapping water and moisture for this year's crop. Beck says that so far the experiment is working, he used to make as many as five passes of fertilizer over his old beet fields now he's down to one, sometimes two. He says the biggest savings are in fuel and fertilizer. 

"We ended up with 31 tons of beets per acre at 19.2- percent sugar content and I would say it was very successful. We didn't do any more than the year before and the stands were good. We had pretty good sugar and mother nature has been pretty good and I didn't put any more effort in than last year," said Beck. 

Traditional growers shoot for 16-percent sugar content on a good year, Beck has topped that doing less and that's where his success lies. "We control our end, that's all we can do and let nature do the rest. So, on Beck farms, the no-till experiment continues into the 2019 season and Ben Beck will try and make high sugar content for the third year in a row.