The 2012 sugar beet harvest has begun in western Nebraska, with six growers from the state delivering about 5,000 tons of sugar beets this week to the Western Sugar Cooperative factory in Torrington, Wyo.
SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) - After receiving the beets Monday, the factory began processing the first of what's expected to be a bumper crop on Tuesday, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/OcaGD6 ).
A late August forecast predicted a 31.7 ton-per-acre yield, with a 19.1 percent sugar content, for the season. Average yield is closer to 25 tons per acre and 17 percent sugar.
Last year, the more than 1 million tons of sugar beets harvested from Nebraska's 52,000 acres showed a 24.9 ton-per-acre average yield. In eastern Wyoming, 31,000 acres produced nearly 860,000 tons, about 27.8 tons per acre.
An unusually large number of growing days and a lack of adverse weather led to the large crop and early start to this year's harvest, said Jerry Darnell, Western Sugar Cooperative's Nebraska-area manager.
That early start has growers and cooperative officials scrambling to figure out how to deal with the entire harvest, which could take until March to process, Darnell said. That could increase the chances for piles of sugar beets waiting to be processed to spoil.
Producers are considering diverting some of the crop to go for livestock feed, which is in short supply this summer due to record drought and scattered wildfires.
A decision on whether to sell some of the sugar beet crop for feed is expected later this week, the newspaper reported.
Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com
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