How to store sugar beets all depends on the region where you are located. The winter months are an important time for sugar beet cooperatives. How you store sugar beets during the winter months can either benefit or subtract from a grower’s payment. Each growing area uses different techniques to maximize sugar retention and minimize losses to respiration. There are various strategies available that are selected based on the weather conditions of the storage locations.
How to Store Sugar Beets
Amalgamated Sugar uses excavators to pull sugar beets off of the tops and sides of piles for reloading. This strategy keeps a core pile of sugar beets that is good while removing frozen and thawing beets. Every two weeks, aerial imagery is used to identify warm spots in piles. Amalgamated also uses ventilation piles to keep beet temperatures above freezing, but cold enough to reduce respiration rates. Amalgamated sugar tries to finish processing non-ventilated beets in February and ventilated beets before April to minimize storage losses when the weather gets warm.
American Crystal has colder weather conditions that allow the beet piles to freeze. When frozen, a beet stops respiring allowing for longer storability, as long as the beets do not thaw. American Crystal uses a process of split pile storage methods that removes sugar beets from the center of the pile which allows natural temperatures to freeze the piles. Ventilation piles are also used to deep freeze beet piles for long-term storage. They also have insulated buildings where they can keep beets frozen into May. This method allows for 250 days of sugar processing and utilizing factory capacity.
In Michigan, cooperatives us a combination of strategies for beet storage including the use of temperature probes to monitor beet pile temperatures. During aerial flights, infrared photos identify hot spots in piles which allows for quick removal. Processing of beets can run into mid-to-late March when ambient temperatures can fluctuate significantly. A new experimental concept of ventilated storage is a shed with a canvass roof. The ventilated storage sheds reduce extreme weather fluctuations while using ventilation to control pile temperatures.
Each beet growing region uses different strategies based on the weather and needs of the cooperative for long-term beet storage. Storage conditions affect the amount of sugar that can be produced from a beet crop. Sugar cooperatives use management techniques to ensure they maximize factory capacity and reduce sugar losses. If you desire to maximize your yield, make sure to check out Germains seed treatment for sugar beets.
Article provided by David Bateman, Sugar Beet Market Manager