ISSUE #459

459 - Don't Just Accept Harvest Losses - Reap What You Sow


American Crystal Sugar Company shareholders have a great reputation for raising high quality excellent yielding sugarbeet crops. However efficient harvesting of the crop and minimizing yield loss in the field often has great room for improvement. A case in point is the results of harvest loss appraisals completed in 1998 by American Crystal Sugar Company agriculturists and growers. Over 300 harvest appraisals were completed.

A Summary of These Results Showed That:

  • Sixty-one percent of fields had losses greater than .75 T/A
  • Forty-three percent had losses greater than 1 ton/acre
  • Harvest losses were excessive even though the 1998 crop was the best ever at 22.3 T/A with large average beet size.

Why do Harvest Loss Appraisals and Harvester Repair and Maintenance?

  • Harvest all beets already produced
  • Reduce tare when feasible
  • Improve defoliation
  • Increase grower profitability

Tools to Minimize Harvest Losses

The American Crystal Sugar Company "Harvest Loss Team" has put together a toolbox of useful items to aid growers to harvest the 2004 crop better than ever. Utilize those tools most likely to be of benefit in your operation. Most of these tools are available at, then click on Ag Tools and go to Ag Calculators or Harvester Forms.

The American Crystal Harvest Toolbox Includes:

  • Sugarbeet harvester pre-field checklist.
  • The sugarbeet harvester slide rule - available from your agriculturist.
  • The Crocodile - a field harvest loss evaluation tool - available from your agriculturist.
  • The American Crystal Sugar Company brochure titled "The Sugarbeet Harvest - Reap What You Sow" available from your agriculturist.
  • Hands on agriculturist assistance - get in touch with your agriculturist during prepile when they have time to assist.

Be Aware of Your Harvest Losses

This is the time of year to start tuning up your defoliators and harvesters. Do you remember what your field looked like when you were done harvesting it last year?


If your field looked like anything other than the first picture you have the opportunity to make more money by delivering the beets you grew. Below is a chart showing actual field losses measured in our 1998 harvest loss study.

Losses From 1998 Harvest Loss Appraisals

Loss (T/A)GrowersLost Rev/ACTotal Rev Lost
@ $40/Ton**
0.00 - 1.00 57% $0/AC $0
1.01 - 2.00 33% $30/AC $4,200,000
2.01 - 3.00 7% $70/AC $2,450,000
3.01 + 3% $90+/AC $1,350,000
Average Loss - $37.20/AC Total - $8.0 Million

(215,000 acres affected)
** 0 - 1 ton/ac = acceptable loss (3/4 ton or less is the goal)
Based on harvest loss studies done in 1998

Make Plans Now for Zone N Management

Right now is the time for planning Nitrogen management programs for the 2005 crop. Grower practices data summarized over the past 7 crop years shows fields with N management by zone produce $45 more revenue per acre. Fertilizer costs are also reduced.

Late Season Cercospora Lowers Yields

Monitor fields carefully for increased severity of Cercospora from the two August infection periods. Uncontrolled Cercospora can significantly reduce yield and quality as the leaf canopy becomes less photosynthetically efficient in September.

Frost and Cercospora

Contrary to some public opinion, frost does not stop Cercospora unless it kills the leaves entirely.