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Red River Valley sugar beet harvest on track to wrap up early

The sugar beet harvest in the Red River Valley is on track to wrap up early. Stock Photo

GRAND FORKS — The sugar beet harvest in the Red River Valley is on track to wrap up early, according to early projections.

Growers have harvested about 90 percent of the beets as of Thursday, Oct. 11, which is ahead of most years, said Brian Ingulsrud, vice president of agriculture at American Crystal Sugar Co. Typically, the harvest takes about three weeks, but the annual undertaking will close out its second week Saturday, Oct. 14.

It's hard to say exactly when the harvest will be completely wrapped, Ingulsrud said, adding there may be some "stragglers."

The harvest began in earnest on Sept. 30, a day ahead of the typical Oct. 1 start date. That may have given farmers a slight boost, Ingulsrud said, but it also helped that sugar factories took in more beets than normal during pre-pile.

"We took about 1.8 million tons during pre-pile," he said.

There were fewer heat shutdowns than normal, which kept momentum going during the harvest, Ingulsrud said. Temperatures have been slightly above normal, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

But the weather has, for the most part, cooperated with the harvest.

Crops are expected to produce higher sugar counts than average, with yields coming in at 30 tons per acre, Ingulsrud said. That's the second highest yield on record.

North Dakota's production is forecast at 6.37 million tons, or up about 2 percent from last year's crop, according to the latest crop production report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On the Minnesota side, producers should bring in 12.2 million tons, down 3 percent from last year, according to the USDA.

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