ISSUE #410

410 The 2001 Year In Review


The 2001 crop year presented some tremendous crop production challenges for shareholders and employees alike. Delayed planting, two, three or four times normal rainfall in some areas, widespread and repeated hail storms, extremely high winds, frosts during harvest, increased severity of rhizomania and unexpected insect outbreaks are some of the problems encountered. Final crop statistics for the Red River Valley crop show yields at 17.8 T/A, with an 18.04% sugar content and a 1.36-% loss to molasses. Yields proved disappointing in some factory districts but overall crop quality was outstanding.

What Can Be Learned From the 2001 Crop Year That Will "Close the Gap" between the yields shareholders achieved and higher yield and quality that might have been achieved?

A brief look back at possible answers to some of the major problems encountered this year may help shareholders minimize impact of similar problems in the future.

Q. What are possible reasons for lower than expected yields in many piler districts?

A. Underestimation of the impact of hail and high winds, delayed planting, excessive growing season rainfall and serious local areas of disease and insect damage are most likely causes of lower than expected yields.

Q. Were lower recommended nitrogen rates the main reason for low yields?

A. Probably not in most circumstances. Shareholders need to carefully compare individual field records to their farm, piler district, and factory district averages to draw that conclusion. Research trials continue to support the nitrogen recommendation presently in use.

Q. Why did the new "high sugar" type varieties fall short of shareholder yield expectations?

A. The "high sugar" type varieties have tonnage yields of 95 to nearly 100% of the mean of coded trial results. A more accurate measure of variety performance is revenue per acre. The "high sugar" types consistently have well above the mean revenue per acre. Many reports of well above average yields with these varieties have been received. Be sure to compare early planted fields to early and late planted to late. Many "shift acres" were planted to high sugar varieties where yields were naturally lower.

Q. How severe was rhizomania impact on yields in parts of the MHD, HLB, and CRX factory districts?

A. In most severely effected fields, yields were decreased by 5 to 8 ton per acre. Hidden yield losses of 1-2 ton per acre, that are hard to determine a reason for, were probably much more common.

Q. How much damage did very high winds and severe hail cause?

A. Severe hail events can cause recoverable sugar/acre losses of 30 to 40%. Losses of 10 to 20% were not uncommon during the 2001 growing season.

Q. Why was cercospora leafspot a minor problem even though July daily infection values were often quite high?

A. Excellent shareholder management programs in 1999, 2000, and 2001 with the highly effective Eminent fungicide appear to have dramatically lowered innoculum levels in most fields. Remember late planted fields seldom have cecospora as severe.

Q. What factors contributed most to the excellent quality crop in 2001 in spite of late planting of many acres?

A. Excellent nitrogen management, substantial acreage planted to high quality varieties, good plant populations, dry weather in late summer and fall in some areas and ideal late September and early October weather contributed the most to the excellent quality.

Rewards Available for Survey Responses

Shareholders interested in higher yields, better quality beets and a larger beet payment can get these rewards just by returning the 2001 Production Practices Survey to Dr. Alan Dexter at North Dakota State University. Survey results are used to identify production problems and plan research and education programs to enhance yield, quality and eventually the beet payment. All survey results are anonymous.

Return the survey on-line. Go to the shareholder information section, click on "NDSU Production Practice Survey" and easily and quickly fill it out. Shareholders can still fill it out and mail it back too. Contact your agriculturist or Dr. Dexter if you have lost or misplaced the survey sent to all shareholders in mid September.

2001 Crop
Storage and Reloading Plans

DateCompletion of Activity
November 10 Split Tall Piles
November 20 Split 20 Foot Piles
December 28 Pick up 20 Foot Splits
January 20 Pick up Tall Splits
March 15 Finish Outside Deep Freeze
April 4-10 Finish Deep Freeze Buildings

Weather departure from expected normal conditions may alter this schedule. Contact your agriculturist for further details on impact of crop size and local conditions on plans in your factory district.