NDSU Planter Test Stand
Tyler Grove, General Agronomist
Each spring at American Crystal Sugar Company, starting in the first week of March, shareholders bring in their sugarbeet planter units to one of 14 locations for testing. What this testing entails is taking the portion of their planter, the planter unit, (see lower right picture) that holds or receives the sugarbeet seed and then spaces out the sugarbeet seeds down the row in a small opening in the soil. The lower left picture is what we call the “grease belt” where the seed sticks on a small film of oil so we can see how the planter unit is performing. Many of our shareholders plant at about 4.75” between each seed, and since we harvest sugarbeet roots, we want hem spaced very uniformly for best yield and quality, and equally important…for proper defoliation and harvesting. If adjustments are needed, they are made on the spot and retested until they function at peak performance. Seeing this detailed performance is difficult to see while planting in the field, so the test stand gives us a preview of how the unit will perform in the field.
The planter test stand project is funded via a check off through SBREB (Sugarbeet Research and Education Board). Norm Cattanach, from NDSU, is in charge of maintenance, scheduling, and moving of equipment for the test stand dates. Mr. Cattanach estimates approximately 15,000 of these units are tested each year, one at a time. Assistance for operating the test stand is provided primarily both from American Crystal Sugar Company Agriculturists and various sugarbeet seed company personnel. You get a really good upper body workout from working a day at the test stands, and this is certainly worth the extra effort to assist our shareholders in producing and storing the best sugarbeet crop we can each year.
Above - The operator controls for the planter test stand
Left - Sugarbeet seed on the “grease belt”
Right - Shareholder Joe Altepeter (Crookston District) setting up and operating the test stand