East Anglia’s sugar beet farmers hoping for good crop

SUGAR beet farmers were hoping for better luck with their crop this year as British Sugar’s campaign, when the crop is harvested and brought to its factories, kicked off today (Wednesday, September 15).

The firm, which has plants at Bury St Edmunds, Wissington, Newark and Cantley, consulted with growers on the proposed factory start dates for the 2011/12 campaign, and they were keen to make an early start to the harvesting as conditions were favourable.

Farmers hope to fare better than with last year’s disastrous crop, which was hampered by unusual weather conditions, frost damage and low sugar content. It was also lifted later out of the ground than this year as the campaign started later.

Sugar beet farmer Robert Baker, of Drinkstone, near Bury St Edmunds, who is also a member of the National Farmers’ Union national sugar board, said signs were good but warned that nothing was certain until the crop was out of the ground.

“The indications from my own farm is we are in for an above average crop. The conditions have been ideal for the early growing season apart from the drought,” he said.

It was too early to say what the sugar content would be like, but tests on the early test loads suggested they were above average, he said.

Things were looking “very positive”, he said and the crop was looking “extremely good”, he added.

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“Last year was a disaster in terms of national yields because a significant percently was not processed - it was lost in the field due to frost,” he said.