Western projecting record beet crop


WYO-BRASKA – Everything goes in cycles and production agriculture is no exception.

Fresh on the heels of arguably one of the worst growing seasons on record in 2019, and with early sugarbeet harvest just underway this week, Jerry Darnell, vice president of agriculture for the Western Sugar Cooperative in Scottsbluff, Neb., said all indications are 2020 could be a record year.

Early harvest in Western Sugar growing areas kicked off Monday. By Tuesday morning, Darnell said samples indicate a projected 33.75 ton per acre crop with 18.65% sugar content on some 45,000 planted acres in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming.

“Those will both be records,” Darnell said. “As long as Mother Nature cooperates with us.

And so far this season, cooperate she has, he said. Minimal hail throughout the growing season combined with sufficient heat have combined to produce what Darnell called “a tremendous crop.”

And that’s being repeated on a total of 111,000 planted acres this year across Western Sugar’s growing regions in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, he said. In the Fort Morgan, Colo., area, early projections are for 32.5 tons to the acre with almost 18% sugar content, which would be another record, Darnell said.

In the Lovell area of north-central Wyoming, early projections are for 28.7 tons per acre. Further north, Billings, Mont., growers are looking for a 34.9 ton per acre crop. The variance is in part due to spring rains around Lovell delaying early field work while some growers in the Fort Morgan area reported irrigation water shortages, Darnell said. 

Despite the issues, however, all three areas should see pretty much average crops this year, he said.

Weather is one of the few things that could change the outlook for the 2020 sugarbeet crop, Darnell said. Last year, fields suffered under the effects of a hard freeze – in the 10-degree range or colder in some areas – that effectively shut down sugar production in the roots and contributed to processing problems after they were out of the ground. But, according to meteorologist Richard Emanuel with the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, Wyo., nothing in the forecast at this time points to a possible repeat of last year’s weather conditions.

“We’re in a cooling period right now,” Emanuel said Tuesday. “Then the odds favor warming up again in the middle of the month. I’m not seeing anything that would suggest an early freeze or anything like that.”

As summer progresses to fall, too, the chances for severe hail diminish, Emanuel said. In fact, there’s not much in the way of precipitation of any kind predicted in the foreseeable future, he said.

Rather the opposite, actually, as “most of the area is in moderate to severe drought, especially north of the North Platte River Valley,” Emanuel said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday designation of six counties in Wyoming as primary disaster areas due to extreme drought, triggering possible eligibility for Farm Service Agency emergency loans. Five additional counties in Wyoming and three counties in Montana, contiguous with the primary counties, also may qualify for the emergency assistance, according to a release from the USDA.

Water short for
Nebraska farmers

LINCOLN, Neb. – For the week ending Aug. 30, there were 6.9 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service field office in Lincoln. 

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 27% very short, 43% short, 29% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 23% very short, 39% short, 37% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 5% very poor, 10% poor, 21% fair, 45% good, and 19% excellent. Corn dented was 74%, well ahead of 49% last year, and ahead of 60% for the five-year average. Mature was 11%, ahead of 1% last year and 4% average.

Soybean condition rated 5% very poor, 9% poor, 20% fair, 47% good, and 19% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 16%, ahead of 1% last year and 8% average.

Sorghum condition rated 4% very poor, 8% poor, 31% fair, 32% good, and 25% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 60%, well ahead of 25% last year, and ahead of 53% average. Mature was 2%, near 3% average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 1% very poor, 2% poor, 15% fair, 63% good, and 19% excellent. Dry edible beans setting pods was 94%, equal to last year. Dropping leaves was 31%, well ahead of 9% last year. Harvested was 2%.

Pasture and Range Report: Pasture and range conditions rated 17% very poor, 30% poor, 30% fair, 20% good, and 3% excellent.

Dry conditions prevail 

across Cowboy State

CHEYENNE – For the week ending Aug. 30, Wyoming experienced hot, dry conditions across the state, according to the NASS Mountain Regional Field Office in Cheyenne. 

Very little rain occurred throughout the state over the last week. According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, Wyoming’s drought conditions have changed little. Most of the state has large sections in extremely dry to drought conditions. 

According to the NIDIS, the amount of land rated as experiencing extreme drought stands at 5.4%. The amount of land rated at severe drought, moderate drought, and abnormally dry was 33%, 35.1%, and 18.6% respectively. 

A reporter from North Central Wyoming said conditions are very dry with growers having to haul water for livestock. A reporter from Northeastern Wyoming indicated conditions are getting worse and producers may have to cull their herds. 

A reporter from South Central Wyoming stated the dryness continues. Another reporter from South Central Wyoming stated producers are reporting pulling their herds and their irrigation systems will be shut off. 

A reporter from Southeastern Wyoming indicated the hot and dry conditions are causing a lack of forage. Another reporter from Southeastern Wyoming stated that even if they got moisture it would not make up for the damage that has taken place. 

Winter wheat planting is underway and barley harvest is finishing up. 

Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 24% very short, 32% short, and 44% adequate, compared to 27% very short, 33% short, and 40% adequate last week. Irrigation water supplies were rated 21% very poor, 8% poor, 28% fair, and 43% good, compared to 26% very poor, 10% poor, 24% fair, and 40% good last week.

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