ISSUE #506

506 - Maximizing Production on Reduced Acres


Sugar marketing allocations, high crop yields, blocked sugar stocks, and future yield projections have led many sugarbeet cooperatives to consider some level of acreage reduction for 2008. When optimum levels of tonnage to maximize factory utilization and meet market allocations are able to be produced from fewer acres, on-farm profit will increase. This has never been more important than right now when sugarbeet production costs are approaching $800/acre. Much improved commodity prices for other crops would also enhance total on-farm profit.

Headland Management

Not cropping headlands to sugarbeets is one opportunity to increase yield. This is particularity compatible with Roundup Ready® sugarbeets in the field and Roundup Ready® soybeans on headlands for example:


  • Yields on headlands were 12% lower
  • Harvest losses were 46% greater on headlands
  • Harvesting costs were higher on headlands
  • Net yield was 14% less on headlands
  • Consider riparian buffer strips with possible NRCS payments
  • Wheat, barley, soybean and alfalfa have been used

Impact of Shelterbelts on Sugarbeet Yield

J. Giles and N. Cattanach evaluated the impact of shelterbelts on yield in 2004. Yields were evaluated on 4 N-S oriented tree belts and 4, E-W oriented shelterbelts.



  • Plant not less than 1H away from trees
  • Planting 3H away from trees eliminates 60% of yield loss
  • Short season crops next to trees have the least yield loss
  • Roundup Ready® soybean between trees and Roundup Ready® sugarbeets are very compatible

Shelterbelts may reduce stand loss, of small beets in many years. ACSC does not recommend removal of tree belts.

Other Practices to Maximize Productivity of Reduced Acres

  • Best farmland selection - avoid problem fields
      Check your grower practices production history
  • Drainage / Ditch Management
      Consider Roundup Ready® corn or soybean for ditches
  • Map Utilization
  • Beet top N credit maps
  • Topography maps for precision drainage
  • Zone fertility management
  • Crop Rotation Options - beets yield less especially after corn and soybean
  • Prepile Payment Maximization
  • Harvest fields with high sugar history first
  • Variety selection specifically for prepile
  • Reduced N use for an entire field, headlands, or strikeouts
  • Plant population management - higher on headlands
  • Pre-sample for field harvest order
  • Use Internet prepile field selector to compare fields

Fertilizer Availability:

Check with dealers regarding availability and pricing ASAP.

"Your Way To Grow"

One of the 2008 February or March meetings will have much more information on management practices to maximize production on reduced acres.