TORRINGTON – It seems the arid summer served to benefit at least one staple crop in the area.
Jerry Darnell, Western Sugar Cooperative agricultural manager, said though some of the sugar beet crop certainly suffered, the crop’s quality could turn out to be better overall.
“We couldn’t get any of the heat units we needed, because it was so cold and wet last year,” Darnell said.
During a rating of Western Sugar’s crop on June 15, about 54 percent were rated as good to excellent, about 31 percent were average and 14 percent were rated poor to marginal.
Darnell added hail damage dropped dramatically from last year to this season. About 21,000 acres were damaged by hail in 2011, whereas as of Monday afternoon about 4,000 acres were hail damaged.
“One of the benefits of not having moisture is no hailstorms,” Darnell said.
The higher overall quality as a result of the hotter weather didn’t come without its cost, though. Darnell said 4.4 percent of Western Sugar’s crop was lost due to drought, totaling 2,192 acres.
Darnell said producers with early access to water and pivots had above-average crops. Those who had to wait on ditch water with no way to apply it through irrigation saw their crop suffer.
Though recent rain offered some relief, growers hope the skies haven’t run dry just yet.
“(The rain) has been real beneficial,” Darnell said. “We could take a couple more rains. That’d be great.”
Darnell said Western Sugar workers will be taking the first samples of this week’s crop on
Monday and may have projections on the crop after assessment is complete.
“For the conditions we’ve had, we have a tremendous crop,” he said.
The harvest from southeast Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle finished strong last November. The yield was slightly higher than average at 24.6 tons per acre. The sugar content was 17.03 percent, falling just short of Darnell’s projections in September 2011.
Two years ago, the local yield was less at 22.6 tons per acre with a slightly higher sugar content of 17.8 percent.
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