As summer starts to fade, sugar beet growers anticipate the harvest season. Many sugar cooperatives throughout the country use early or prepile sugarbeet harvest as a management tool. Early harvest ensures that the sugarbeet crop can be harvested so that the whole crop can be processed during the factories campaign. The middle of August through September is when early harvest occurs on a limited basis with enough beets harvested to operate factories.
During the summer months, sugarbeet cooperatives have their agricultural staff take crop estimates to determine how the crop is growing and how large the crop is going to be for the growing season. Then management assesses the data to decide when to start with the prepile harvest. Some beet cooperatives begin in the middle of August while others wait until September to begin harvesting. Each management team makes the decision based on what is best for their cooperative.
Regular harvest starts in October with cooperatives determining when to change from prepile storage too long term storage. Regular harvest is managed using sugarbeet temperatures to allow for long-term storage. Beets that are too warm or frozen will not store long term. Cooperatives manage harvest to ensure that the beets will able to last throughout the storage season.
Benefits of Early or Prepile Sugarbeet Harvest
Early harvest has become an excellent management tool to process more sugarbeets and to use factories more efficiently. Sugarbeets harvested in August are smaller and have a lower sugar percentage than later harvested beets, but the benefits of harvesting early make it beneficial for cooperatives. Early and prepile harvesting benefits the growers and cooperatives, allowing more income to return to farm families.