ISSUE #494

494 - Top 50 Growers Practices and Performance


American Crystal Sugar Company’s agriculture department has recently completed a summary of those Gold Standard Agronomy Practices used by the Top 50 Grower group. The analysis of data was for the period 2002-2006 of the top 10 growers in each district based on revenue per acre. Impact of favorable weather is minimized by using data from a 5 year period. The top 50 group had an average of $975/acre more revenue than the average American Crystal Sugar Company grower for this 5 year period. This analysis showed stand establishment was probably the single biggest factor contributing to their success.

Top 50 Grower Stand Establishment Practices

  • Over 80% attended a planter test stand clinic in 2006
  • They used a 4.88 inch average seed spacing
  • They prepared excellent seedbeds
  • They had better seedling emergence 50
  • They harvested 21more beets per 100’ row
  • Every 10 beets/100’ of row is worth about $35/acre

Value Those Seedlings – Think Cover Crop

American Crystal Sugar Company growers replanted over 80,000 acres in 2002, about 16% of the planted acres. Loss to growers was about $200/acre and over $25,000,000 to the company. Cover cropping is a management tool that will reduce stand loss, seedling damage and stop unnecessary soil erosion. Contact your NRCS county office in Northwest Minnesota to see if they still have EQIP program cost share funds available for cover cropping. Value those seedlings and utilize cover cropping, residue management, and other stand preserving practices in 2007. Spring oats or barley cover crop use is inexpensive and adaptable to existing management practices. Contact your Agriculturist for more information on using oat or barley cover crop

Guidelines for Using Barley Cover Crop

  • Plant at least ½ bushel of barley
  • Broadcast or drill the barley 1-5 days before planting beets
  • Control the barley in the row at the 3 leaf stage with band spraying
  • Control the barley between the rows by the 4-5 leaf stage
  • Earlier control reduces crop competition
  • Later control gives more wind protection
  • Delay cultivation to maximize seedling protection
  • Barley may use valuable moisture in dry years.


Thank You
Thanks to Alan Dexter and Dennis Berglund for assistance with this Ag Notes issue.