Hail Impacts 2016 Sugarbeet Crop
Greg Richards, Agronomy Manager
On the evening of July 9 and extending into the early morning hours of July 10, hail damage occurred on several fields through much of the Moorhead and Hillsboro growing districts of American Crystal Sugar Company. The observations of damage began west and north of Reynolds, ND and extended southeast to Lake Park, MN. The damage varied over this area and the Hillsboro and Moorhead agriculturists have provided an estimate on the number of acres in 4 categories, 0-25% defoliation, 25-50% defoliation, 50-75% defoliation and 75-100% defoliation. The two district totals came in with 6,800 acres rated as 0-25% defoliated by the hail. 5,410 acres were 25-50% defoliated, 4,950 acres fell into the 50-75% category and 1,949 acres were more than 75% defoliated. Although the devastation that occurred will certainly lower yields on fields impacted by the hail, the overall benefit of the 2.0”-4.5” of rain received will have a substantially favorable impact on other fields near these areas.
With the amount of hail damage received, we expect that those fields hit the hardest will be set back by up to 3 weeks of growth, resulting in 2-3 ton lower yield as well as lower quality. Our general recommendation, in these instances, is that the grower should continue to care for these fields to minimize weed competition and to apply fungicides to control Cercospora as necessary. Finally, we will recommend that whenever possible, growers should leave severely damaged fields unharvested until the end of their harvest operation to allow the beets to maximize sugar content.
Many of the agriculturists have received questions on what can be applied to hail damaged fields that will help them heal more rapidly. Our best recommendation for these questions is to leave the fields alone, save the money that you would spend on the “snake oils” and let time heal the wounds. Some of the reserves stored in the beet root will be used to maintain life and regenerate the canopy. New leaf growth will need to occur so the sugarbeet can resume maximizing the photosynthetic activity necessary for sugar accumulation. To date, there has not been a product tested that will aid in the rapid redevelopment of the canopy.