UK sugar beet growers celebrate record yields

British sugar beet collected in the field before delivery to the factory. Picture: JAMES LINSELL-CL

British sugar beet collected in the field before delivery to the factory. Picture: JAMES LINSELL-CLARK/SWNS.COM - Credit: James Linsell-Clark /

Sugar beet growers are celebrating a bumper crop from their 2017/18 campaign.

The campaign, or beet harvest, came to a close just before Easter and the British beet sugar industry is celebrating record yields, with 8.9m tonnes processed through British Sugar’s four factories, which includes one at Bury St Edmunds.

The final average yield was an impressive 83.4 tonnes per hectare of beet, which compares to the previous record of 79.8.

The increases have been driven by the work of the British Beet Research Association (BBRO) – jointly funded by British Sugar and sugar beet growers – which has played a key role in driving a focused, partnership approach to productivity improvement, British Sugar said.

Over the last 10 years, yields have risen by a quarter, and many growers this year have seen yields of more than 100 tonnes per hectare.

British Sugar managing director Paul Kenward said: “This has been a long and challenging campaign for our growers, our supply chain and our four factories. I am hugely proud of the record yields we’ve seen from our homegrown sugar beet and we continue to be one of the most efficient sugar industries in the world. However, we simply couldn’t do it without our 3,500 growers and the 9,500 people who work across our supply chain.

“We are processing the same amount of sugar beet today with four factories as we were 20 years ago with 10, as a result of investing in our factories to make them even more efficient. We’ll now focus on getting ready for the next campaign and making further improvements.”