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Dry conditions cause challenging sugar beet harvest

Initial sugar beet harvester test results from the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) indicate operators are managing to keep losses to a minimum but dry and hard soil conditions are proving challenging, with the ever-present threat of higher surface losses due to root breakage and snapping in the ground.

 


Marianne   Curtis

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Marianne   Curtis
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Scalping is proving to be an issue, and growers should expect a mixed bag of excessive green and over scalped crowns in the sample, according to BBRO. “Not only are harvesters confronted with varying sizes of beet but a variation in crown height, due to dry hard conditions and the beet growing out of the ground.”

 

Scalping is also contributing to surface losses, with some protruding roots being knocked over by the scalping knives. Keeping scalping knives as high and sharp as possible will help to reduce this effect, advises BBRO.


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Surface losses

 

Surface losses were predicted to be the area of concern going into this campaign but while they are making up a large percentage of total loss compared with last year, levels are still low, according to BBRO.

 

Root shape was an early concern, says the organisation, but dry conditions have led to some uniform crops although slightly elongated. The typical root shape, combined with the dry conditions is leading to some low soil tare off the harvester. Minimal cleaning with low turbine speeds and bar gates is more than enough to keep soil tare low and beet quality high, says BBRO.

 

Root breakage appears to be under control with the only major threat coming from the dry soil conditions and tap root being left behind. When planning a lift, evaluate surface conditions for compaction and when harvesting begins check tap roots are being lifted fully, advises BBRO.

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