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‘Serving The Nation’s Sugarbeet Community Since 1963’ Volume 51 Number 2 February 2012

Sugar Publications 4601 16th Ave. N. Fargo, ND 58102

Page 18 Page 4

Phone: (701) 476-2111 Fax: (701) 476-2182 E-Mail: Web Site: Publisher: Sugar Publications General Manager & Editor: Don Lilleboe Advertising Manager: Heidi Wieland (701) 476-2003 Graphics: Forum Communications Printing

— Feature Articles — Arena Valley Success Story . . . . . . . . . . . 4 47-ton beets following potatoes on sandy soils

Predicting Organic Matter Zones . . . . . . 10 Southern Minn group develops model for N management

A Search for the Sweet Spot . . . . . . . . . 14 Idaho ARS scientists work on rhizomania, curly top

The Sugarbeet Grower is published six times annually (January, February, March, April/May, July/August, November/December) by Sugar Publications, a division of Forum Communications Printing. North American sugarbeet producers receive the magazine on a complimentary basis. Annual subscription rates are $12.00 domestic and $18.00 for foreign subscribers. Advertising in The Sugarbeet Grower does not necessarily imply endorsement of a particular product or service by the publisher.

Spent Lime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Long-term effects on Aphanomyces & beet yield, quality

— Regular Pages —

— Front Cover —

Write Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

A 2011 western Nebraska sugarbeet field flourishes beneath the September sun.

Ode to the Handyman Jack

Visit Our Website! Updated & Expanded!

Dateline: Washington . . . . . . . . . . 12

Around the Industry . . . . . . . . . . . 22


U.S. House & Election Year

Photo: Don Lilleboe

Who, what & where it’s happening


Photo: Don Lilleboe

Left: Jason Meyers in one of his 2011 Arena Valley sugarbeet fields.

Arena Valley Success Story Cover Crop & Strip Till Among Key Elements in Producing 47-Ton Beets Following Potatoes on Sandy Soils ason Meyers is old enough to have gone through some tough years, young enough to still be hungry for new challenges — and good enough to rank among the top growers of Amalgamated Sugar Company. And he does it all by operating in two locales far enough apart that he travels between them by airplane. Meyers, who turns 40 this year, has


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been around sugarbeets his entire life. He grew up in southwestern Idaho, near Grand View, where his late father, Ray, farmed for many years in partnership with brother Cecil. At one point, the Meyers brothers were growing about 1,700 acres of beets. “My own brothers and I weeded crops when we were kids and topped onions in onion seed fields,” Jason re-

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calls. As his older brothers left the farm to go into the construction business, Jason continued to work alongside his dad and uncle — and loved it. “I always knew what I wanted to do: be a farmer,” he says. “Either that or a crop duster.” (While he never became an aerial applicator, Meyers has had his pilot’s license for nearly 12 years — and also is currently training in helicopter flight.) At age 23 Meyers went off to Boise State University for a year and a half; but the call of the land brought him back to Grand View. A couple years later, he struck off on his own, moving about 30 miles east to the Glenns Ferry vicinity. That phase did not start out well. “I had 526 acres of sugarbeets, and about 40% of them blew out — three times,” he says. “I kept replanting and ended up averaging 23 tons at a $30 beet payment. The following year, I had about 28 tons at the same price.” The bottom line was not looking good, to put it mildly. “Then I started to pull myself back out,” Meyers says, “and I’ve been ahead ever since.” How? One way was partnering with successful longtime growers like father Ray, brother Doug, Terry Ketterling (former chairman of Amalgamated) and Jack Post. “I’ve learned different things from each of them,” he affirms. Also, “I learned to choose better soils. By then I was flying, looking over different fields during July and August to see if there was any evidence of erosion. Then, prior to the fall harvest, I’d go visit the landlords of ground I was interested in renting to see if it would be available for sugarbeets.” That approach took him about 70 miles northwest of Grand View, to the Arena Valley along Idaho’s western border. While sugarbeets are still produced up on the adjacent “bench,” they were nonexistent on the valley floor in recent years due to past dealings with serious wind erosion on the sandy soils. Quite a few landlords in the valley didn’t want beets on their ground since, in connection with their erosion concerns, this crop typically is the first one in and the last one out. “Some of them told me I was crazy coming over here and growing beets,” Meyers recalls. But he had been flying over the area for five years, was impressed with the uniformity of the crops being grown there, “and I was confident I


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EVERY BEET MATTERS TO US, BECAUSE EVERY POUND OF SUGAR MATTERS TO YOU. For Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets in the U.S.: On February 8, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its decision to implement interim measures of deregulation with conditions for the planting of Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets root crops, and of planting under USDA permit for Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets seed crops. Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets can only be sold, transported and planted in compliance with the conditions imposed by USDA and as set forth in mandatory compliance agreements with USDA, which must be in place prior to transport or planting. Growers must comply with the Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement (MTSA) Amendment and the Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets Technology Use Guide (TUG) Addendum on

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW IRM, WHERE APPLICABLE, GRAIN MARKETING AND ALL OTHER STEWARDSHIP PRACTICES AND PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Details of these practices can be found in the Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers printed in this publication. ©2012 Monsanto Company.

Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers For Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets in the U.S.: On February 8, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its decision to implement interim measures of deregulation with conditions for the planting of Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets root crops, and of planting under USDA permit for Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets seed crops. Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets can only be sold, transported and planted in compliance with the conditions imposed by USDA and as set forth in mandatory compliance agreements with USDA, which must be in place prior to transport or planting. Growers must comply with the Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement (MTSA) Amendment and the Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets Technology Use Guide (TUG) Addendum on

Photo: Don Lilleboe

For Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets in the U.S.: The Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement is amended as follows: Grower agrees to transport and plant Genuity® Roundup Ready® Sugarbeets only for the production of a root crop, and not for seed production, and in compliance with the conditions imposed by the USDA under the deregulation with conditions and as set forth in mandatory compliance agreements with USDA, which grower agrees will be in place prior to transport or planting. Based on the decision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on January 27, 2011, Genuity® Roundup Ready® Alfalfa seed is available for sale and distribution by authorized Seed Companies or their dealers for use in the United States only. This seed may not be planted outside of the United States, or for the production of seed, or sprouts. Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. This product has been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. Do not export Genuity® Roundup Ready® Alfalfa seed or crop, including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Biotechnology Industry Organization. B.t. products may not yet be registered in all states. Check with your Monsanto representative for the registration status in your state. IMPORTANT IRM INFORMATION: RIB Complete™ Corn does not require the planting of a structured refuge except in the CottonGrowing Area where corn earworm is a significant pest. Genuity® SmartStax® RIB Complete™ and Genuity® VT Double PRO® RIB Complete™ corn are blended seed corn products. See the IRM/ Grower Guide for additional information. Always read and follow IRM requirements. Cottonseed containing Monsanto traits may not be exported for the purpose of planting without a license from Monsanto. Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. This result may not be an indicator of results you may obtain as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Acceleron and Design®, Acceleron®, Asgrow®, Biotech Yield Assurance®, BYA SM, Bollgard II®, Genuity and Design®, Genuity Icons, Genuity®, Respect the Refuge and Cotton Design®, RIB Complete and Design™, RIB Complete™, Roundup Ready 2 Technology and Design®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready Plus™, Roundup Ready®, Roundup®, SmartStax and Design®, SmartStax®, VT Double PRO®, VT Triple PRO®, YieldGard VT Triple® and YieldGard VT® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Ignite® and LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design® are registered trademarks of Bayer. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Respect the Refuge® and Respect the Refuge and Corn Design® are registered trademarks of National Corn Growers Association. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2012 Monsanto Company.


Jason Meyers’ “power tiller” is an old Ferguson ‘Tilrvator’ that he modified into a striptill unit by removing alternate flails, adding tunnel shields and running fertilizer lines. could do the same with sugarbeets.” Meyers was able to rent 1,000 acres for beets around Wilder for the 2011 season — roughly twice as much as his beet acreage back in the Bruneau and Grand View area, where he lives. The majority of last year’s Arena Valley beets went on ground that in 2010 had been in potatoes, farmed by Simplot. eyers knew that if he were to grow sugarbeets successfully in the sandy Arena Valley soils, he’d have to minimize the threat of soil erosion. On potato ground, that meant seeding a wheat cover crop as soon as possible after the potato harvest. First he disked the upcoming beet fields to chew up the potato vines and cover truck and equipment tracks. Then he had a fan truck blow on the wheat — about 50 pounds per acre on the earlier-harvested potato fields and a higher rate on the later ones, since he couldn’t expect as much fall cover crop growth on those. That was followed by a single-pass DMI ripper disk/roller harrow operation. The potato fields had been treated with Sencor®, which has an 18-month plantback restriction for sugarbeets. Familiar with a Sencor neutralizer, Reclaim®, Meyers applied it through the fields’ irrigation systems — while simultaneously watering the wheat cover crop. “By October, the wheat (on the earlier-harvested fields) was six inches tall, which was perfect,” he remarks. The wheat held those fields well over winter, and in the spring of 2011


Meyers came in with a 12-row power tiller — set up for 22-inch rows — and strip tilled nine-inch bands. The power tiller is an old Ferguson Mfg. “Tilrvator” with its alternate flails removed. He installed tunnel shields to keep the tilled soil from being thrown

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Photo: Howard Binford

Photo: Don Lilleboe

Jason Meyers credits this Smizer bed roller, front-mounted on his planter tractor, as an important contributor to optimal plant stands in the sandy ďŹ elds. onto the inter-row wheat cover, and likewise added lines for fertilizer and humic acid (which also helps neutralize the Sencor). A centered stabilizer disk completed the unit. “It’s ugly — but it works,â€? Meyers quips. On fields that were bedded up the prior fall, the western Idaho producer ran a front-mount Smizer bed roller on the planter tractor. Knockoffs on the Smizer remove the bed tops, and the roller firms the seedbed. “Plus, the roller teeth till the soil, so if you have any small weeds, they’ll be uprooted,â€? Meyers says. Press wheels mounted out front on the Smizer firm up the water rows on gravity-irrigated fields and also serve as guidance tracks for the tractor. Specially designed planter press wheels create a “Vâ€? whose trough is one and a half to two inches below the field surface. Since only a half inch of soil ends up atop the seed, the system offers good wind protection for the emerging beets. Meyers’ JD MaxEmerge carries eSetÂŽ disks from Illinois-based Precision Planting. “With today’s seed costs being what they are, the system has really paid for itself,â€? he observes. “I have extremely few skips or doubles. We can use more vacuum, and it has a special doubles eliminator.â€? After the 2011 Arena Valley beets reached the four- to six-leaf stage, Meyers applied the first RoundupÂŽ treatment to kill the wheat cover and any other emerged weeds. The second Roundup application went on a month later, followed by a third lighter rate that was tank mixed with fungicide for powdery mildew control. Meyers does use what might be called a “more-standardâ€? strip-till regimen on some of his beet ground — i.e., those fields not following potatoes.


Planting a 2011 Meyers Arena Valley beet ďŹ eld into a striptilled wheat cover. Note the “Vâ€? seed zone depth, which also helps protect emerged plants from wind erosion.

He runs a Schlagel unit there, shanking in nitrogen and phosphate during the strip-till pass. He’ll later broadcast some sulphate and urea over the top as needed. o how did Meyers fare in his first year of growing sugarbeets in the sandy soils of the Arena Valley? The average clean-beet yield across his 1,000 acres ended up at 47 tons, with sugar content running 16.3%.


Some form of strip tillage “is the only way you can raise beets successfully here,� Meyers firmly believes. “And not only in beets. They’re strip tilling corn on corn in this area now because they’ve lost so many crops to wind erosion.� Bottom line? You know Jason Meyers and his Cessna 150 will be making regular trips between Grand View and Wilder once again during the 2012 growing season. — Don Lilleboe �






I ordered all my chemicals. I prebought all my seed. I even made a list to check off All that I would need.

Write Field

But there was a crucial error On the list up near the top. Should have been extensive help For that wreck that’s in my shop. Leaning up behind the door Cloaked in rust and dirt, Stands that evil farm contraption, Intent to make thumbs hurt.

By David Kragnes

That vicious one-legged monster, That the devil built in rage — And turned loose on farmers, Their religion for to gauge. This ungainly apparition Can break your jaw or wrist, Crush kneecaps into powder Or give your back a twist.

Ode to the Handyman Jack I’ve fixed up almost everything This winter in my shop. I’ve repaired and rebearinged From the bottom to the top.

The tractors are back in the shed With fresh wax on the hood. All in all, my schedule’s really Looking pretty good.

I know all farmers have one, But they’ll hide it if they can. By now you must have guessed it: I mean their Handyman. They’re mostly bent and rusty, But they hardly ever die. Though I mowed ours with the Bushhog once And made my father cry. I think that is the only time I’ve seen one bought brand new. But they stock them at the farm store, So they must sell at least a few. Most every one I’ve ever seen Lay in a pickup bed, ’Tween the tow chains and tire iron, Like road kill you found dead. Just waiting there riding ’round, In its sweet repose. ’Til it gets to drop some-something On some-someone’s toes. I must tell you before I go, It shook me to my socks: I saw a mounted Handyman On a pickup’s new toolbox. It was painted up to match The pickup’s two-tone blue. The only thing I can say: That guy needs more to do.

David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn.

He is a former chairman of American Crystal Sugar Co., and currently serves on the board of directors of CoBank.




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Predicting Organic Matter Zones

** Dan Humberg, South Dakota State University, assisted with the employment of the Landsat 5 satellite imagery. Richard Horsley, North Dakota State University, conducted analysis of the data and produced an algorithm used to define the organic matter zones.

showed that nitrogen mineralized throughout the growing season does indeed have a good correlation with organic matter level. In that study, Landsat 5 satellite imagery of bare soil was used to aid in the development of a model for prediction of variation in organic matter within a given field. The premise was that the color of the soil on a greyscale image would correlate to OM. Wavelength bands with the highest correlations to actual OM were used for the model; and, since OM tends to follow elevation, that element also was added to the model.** So the completed model utilizes elevation data along with three different wavelength bands and correction factors. Mapping software was used to come up with a predicted OM map using the model. It includes a maximum of five zones, numbered “2” through “6.” (The predicted zone number, it should be emphasized, identifies similar OM zones within the field; it does not predict the actual organic matter level.) Soil samples were compared as a means of testing the model’s accuracy for prediction of OM zones. A pilot program was then designed to test whether the OM model would influence sugarbeet yield and quality on a whole-field basis, with the program put into action during the 2010 Southern Minn growing season. Seven fields were selected for the test, with each organic matter zone’s soil sampled to a 48-inch depth, and nitrogen then adjusted to a given level to compensate for predicted OM mineralization. For example, if the OM ranged from zero to 3%, N was adjusted to 120 pounds/acre; if OM was 3-4%, N was adjusted to 110 pounds; 4-5% OM, 100 pounds of N; 5-7% OM, 90 pounds; and finally, for organic matter soils above 7%, the nitrogen was adjusted down to 70 pounds. Within each field, one test strip using grid sampling technology and a second strip using conventional sampling were added in order to compare the zone program to these different soil sampling methods. Total N to the four-foot depth averaged 51 pounds in zones 3-5 and 321 pounds in zone 6. A total of 406 samples were collected from six fields in the 2010 study year and analyzed at the SMBSC quality lab. In the first analysis, beet samples from OM zones adjacent to the test strips were used to compare zone, grid and conventional fertility management. In four of the six fields, sugar content was higher with the zones. Five of the six fields had higher purity with the zones, while three had higher tonnage. Five of the six fields had higher net revenue with the OM zone measurement compared to grid or conventional. (Zone 6 was not included in the analysis since its nitrogen level was very high, so the N could not be managed based on organic matter.)

Table 1. SMBSC Data Base, 2003-05 Sugar Percent as Influenced by Organic Matter

Table 2. SMBSC Data Base, 2003-05 Purity as Influenced by Organic Matter

Southern Minn Co-op Develops Model to Assist Nitrogen Management & Boost Profitability By Chris Dunsmore, Jody Steffel and Mark Bredehoeft*

an the level of organic matter (OM) influence sugar percent and purity in one’s sugarbeet crop? And, assuming it can, how might organic matter zones be mapped in order to allow growers to appropriately modify nitrogen application rates to take advantage of this relationship? Those were core questions raised by Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMBSC) ag research staff several years ago. As in many other areas, organic matter levels vary significantly in the Southern Minn growing district. Research conducted in cooperation with University of Minnesota-St. Paul soil scientist John Lamb during 2003-05 documented the effect that OM had on both sugar percent and purity (Table 1 and Table 2). Another study was initiated in 2006 to determine the influence that organic matter has on nitrogen mineralization — and to learn whether OM could be successfully predicted across the Southern Minn growing area. That research, done in cooperation with John Lamb and Albert Sims of the UM Northwest Research & Outreach Center at Crookston,



Sugar Percent

* Chris Dunsmore, Jody Steffel and Mark Bredehoeft are research assistant, statistical assistant and research agronomist, respectively, with Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, Renville.

Organic Matter Categories 10

Organic Matter Categories THE SUGARBEET GROWER February 2012

ata to date suggest that the organic matter zone program should be successful under most growing conditions. Since the objective is to enhance the grower’s profitability by optimizing production of all crops in the rotation, it’s important to engage other parties who play a role in this effort: crop consultants, retailers and advisors for the other crops, not just for sugarbeets. An organic matter mapping system is now available to soil sample contractors (consultants) in the Southern Minn region via the SMBSC website. This system has been patented by SMBSC. Consultants who have been approved for access to the site can select a targeted field. The consultant will then be able to observe the number of zones within


Example of Purchased Map for Use in Determining Soil Sampling Zones as Delineated by Organic Matter Level

Source: Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative

It was concluded that zone data needed to be “weighted” in order to equalize the data across each zone. For instance, if one zone covered 30 acres and another just five acres, the larger zone would have a greater influence on the mean — and thus would bias the data toward that zone’s reading. The bottom line on the 2010 data was as follows: • Sugar in the OM zones increased 0.1% over the grid method and 0.7% over conventional sampling. • Purity in the OM zones increased 0.3% versus the grid method and 0.9% compared to conventional. • Tonnage per acre was 0.8 ton higher in OM zones over grid and 1.2 tons better than the conventional. • Per-acre net revenue in the OM zones was $69.81 more than with the grid method and $78.55 better than the conventional sampling method. The tests were repeated in 2011, but results were inconclusive due to the type of growing season experienced in the Southern Minn area. Delayed planting, heavy spring rains and an abnormally hot and dry summer and autumn combined to produce a greater impact on the final results than did the N treatments, making it impossible to sort out what impact the N management program had on final crop yield and quality. The plan for 2012 calls for seven sugarbeet fields to be managed using this approach. Testing also will be conducted in fields planted to corn whose nitrogen will be managed using this program. Another related study will look at whether plant populations by OM zone can enhance wholefield production.

that field — and the acreage per zone — to determine whether they wish to purchase the selected field. (For 2012, fields being used for sugarbeet production this year can be purchased at no charge.) The above image provides an example of a purchased map. The download options for the OM zone maps include a shape-file, geo-referenced bmp or tiff, or pdf. Layers of information (such as yield and Veris maps) can be overlaid to enhance the organic matter map. At present, the geographic area available for organic matter maps is determined by the Landsat image used during the project’s development. It covers the bulk of the SMBSC growing area. Area expansion will be considered as the program is refined and grower needs are further assessed. ❖

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Dateline: Washington Election Year & the U.S. House The rule of thumb in Washington is that there is not much legislating that goes on during an election year. That observation will be absolutely true in 2012, for a number of reasons. First, there is an extraordinary amount of time being spent on campaigning this year because of redistricting. Every 10 years, when the House congressional districts are redrawn, lots of issues are created for incumbent House members. Some states lose districts, some add districts, or existing districts are reconfigured to correct for population shifts, so members must engage their new constituents. Sometimes two incumbents are pitted against each other in a new district. The bottom line is that there is lots of turmoil for members who have to adapt to new congressional districts and constituencies. Second, the primary process requires members to fend off challengers from within their own party, as well as position themselves for a variety of potential opponents from the other party. This becomes a huge distraction and a drain of energy and attention for the members and staff. Third, in order to spend the required amount of time working on the campaign and raising funds for the campaign, the House has fewer legislative days. The House schedule for 2012 has 109 days scheduled for votes. There are 92 legislative days before the November election, and only 79 legislative days before the August recess. Fourth, the pressure is on to avoid controversial votes. Every vote that members cast will be scrutinized by their opponent in an effort to use it against them. Thus, there are fewer votes and a deep desire to avoid politically sensitive issues. Fifth, it’s a presidential election year. Typically, when a presidential candidate is in a member’s state or district, the member wants to travel with the candidate (but not always) to show how connected they are with the current or future president. Presidential visits usually draw big crowds, which are hard for members of Congress to turn down.


By Luther Markwart Executive Vice President American Sugarbeet Growers Assn.

The bottom line is that there is a constant flurry of political activity all the way to election day. Your industry representatives spend lots of time talking to new candidates who are running for office and incumbents fighting to stay in office. We are constantly working to clarify which members or potential members are supportive of the U.S. sugar industry and policies that either sustain or threaten our industry. All of this begs the question, “Is there time to pass a farm bill in 2012?” Any major piece of legislation requires a good deal time to develop and floor debate that takes precious time, which is difficult to schedule in a compressed legislative calendar. While we expect to see work done on the 2012 farm bill early this year to address both spending levels and structural changes in some farm policies, there is little certainty as to when (and whether) work can be completed and action taken by both Houses of Congress. Work on the bill in the spring will clarify whether it can be passed in the summer. Stay tuned and be ready.

U.S. Sugar Supply & Demand January estimates by USDA of sugar supply and demand reduced supplies by 578,000 tons, primarily due to speculation on the Mexican crop size and available sugar to export to the U.S. Mexico suffered a drought last year that was followed by more-than-adequate rainfall. That delayed harvest by about three weeks. We are reminding everyone that it is still early in the year; and since the Mexican crop was delayed, no realistic projections of domestic production can be credible until early March, when more than half of the Mexican crop will be harvested and processed. Everyone must be patient and let the Mexican data become more certain. After April 1, a much better assessment of Mexican sugar exports to the U.S. can be ascertained — and U.S. production will be well near its completion. There is plenty of time to balance U.S. supply and demand in the post-March period. This system has worked effectively in the past and will continue to do so in the future, if it is allowed to operate as it was designed. ❖


2012 Planter Test Stand Schedule Seeding Unit Evaluation Program Began in 1980s he 2012 North Dakota State University planter test stand schedule is provided at right. Any Upper Midwest sugarbeet growers wishing to have their individual beet planter units checked out for wear and other potential problems are encouraged to contact their sugar company agriculturist or the host site to make an appointment. Several hundred Minnesota, North Dakota and eastern Montana growers bring in their planter units each year for testing. The value of those visits, in terms of avoiding seed spacing and plant population problems, was estimated in the latter 1990s to be $2.5-3.0 million. It doubtlessly is now significantly higher, given current participation levels and seed prices.


Test Stand Clinic Sites February 22 & 23 — • Sidney Sugars, Sidney, Mont. February 29 — • JD Implement, Mahnomen, Minn. March 6, 7 & 8 — • Southern Minnesota Sugar Co-op, Renville • Minn-Dak Co-op, Wahpeton, N.D. March 12 — • RDO Equipment, Casselton, N.D. March 16 — • Hefty Seed Co., Pembina, N.D. March 19 — • Kittson County Implement, Kennedy, Minn. • Betaseed Research Farm, Moorhead, Minn.

THE SUGARBEET GROWER (Upper Midwest) February 2012

March 20 — • Kittson Cty. Implement, Kennedy • Betaseed Research Farm, Moorhead • Northstar Water Bldg., Ada, Minn. March 21 — • Northstar Water Bldg., Ada • Steve Adams Shop, East Grand Forks, Minn. March 22 — • Steve Adams Shop, East Grand Forks • SESVanderhave Shop, Fargo March 23 — • Steve Adams Shop, East Grand Forks • JD Equipment, Grafton, N.D. March 27 & 28 — • Evergreen Implement, Warren, Minn. • Oppegard Equipment, Hillsboro, N.D. March 29 & 30 — • Steve Williams Shop, Fisher, Minn. • Hilleshog Research Farm, Glyndon, Minn. April 2 — • Cavalier Equipment, Cavalier, N.D. April 3, 4 & 5 — • Crystal Seed Plant, Moorhead ❖


Updated USDA Crop Numbers U January Report Estimates Nation’s 2011 Sugarbeet Production at 10% Below Prior Year — U.S. Sugarbeet Production, 2010 & 2011 —

California Colorado Idaho Michigan Minnesota Montana Nebraska North Dakota Oregon Wyoming U.S. Total

Area Harvested



(1,000 Acres)


(1,000 Tons)

2010 25.5 27.9 170.0 147.0 441.0 42.5 47.5 214.0 10.3 30.4 1,156.1

2011 25.1 28.7 176.0 153.0 469.0 43.0 51.5 225.0 10.8 31.0 1,213.1

2010 44.6 29.5 31.0 26.0 26.6 29.5 23.8 26.5 36.3 27.0 27.7

2011 43.0 28.5 34.5 24.0 19.0 25.8 25.0 20.5 35.8 27.1 23.7

2010 1,137 823 5,270 3,822 11,731 1,254 1,131 5,671 374 821 32,034

2011 1,079 818 6,072 3,672 8,911 1,109 1,288 4,613 387 840 28,789

Source: USDA-NASS January 2012

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SDA’s January estimate of 2011 U.S. sugarbeet production placed the crop at 28.8 million tons, down fractionally from the November forecast and 10% below the 2010 production level. The nation’s beet growers harvested about 5% more acres than in 2010, but at 23.7 tons per acre, the average yield was down by four tons from the previous year. A cool and wet spring delayed planting in several growing areas, but most experienced improved conditions as the season progressed. The Upper Midwest did have limited moisture later in the growing season, which reduced crop yield potential. While Minnesota’s 2011 production was down more than 31% from 2010, it remained the nation’s top beet-producing state at just over 8.9 million tons. Idaho, whose production increased by 15% over the previous year, reclaimed the number-two spot with nearly 6.1 million tons. North Dakota, the second leading production state in 2010, harvested slightly more than 4.6 million tons of beets in 2011. Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming were the only states were beet yields were higher in 2011 compared to the prior year. The margin was quite significant in Idaho: 34.5 tons in 2011 compared to a 31.0-ton average in 2010. ❖

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vealed that disease — particularly Rhizoctonia and Aphanomyces — was the most serious production issue during the 2011 season. Among survey re-


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spondents, 54% said those two diseases topped the list — which was almost identical to the 2010 survey results, when 53% said Rhizoctonia and/or Aphanomyces ranked number one. Another 3% listed Rhizomania, with just 1% saying Cercospora was their most serious problem last year. The 242 growers responding to the 2011 production practices survey accounted for about 20% of the nearly 694,000 sugarbeet acres planted last year in the American Crystal, MinnDak and Southern Minn districts. “Weather� was reported to be the most serious problem in 2011 by 15% of the survey respondents, up from 8% in 2010. Emergence/plant stand received the dubious number-one ranking from 7% of the 2011 respondents. Weeds once again ranked very low on the list of most serious problems in the region's beet fields. Only 5% of the 2011 survey respondents placed weeds as their top issue. That compares with 6% in 2010, 7% in 2009, 30% in 2008 and 46% in 2007. The more-benign ranking of weeds in recent years directly correlates with the availability and high use levels of Roundup ReadyŽ sugarbeets. Of those acres encompassed by survey respondents, 82% were planted to Roundup Ready varieties. That’s down from 2010, when the level was 93%. The decline in Roundup Ready acreage is attributed to growers being uncertain as of early last year whether Roundup Ready sugarbeets would be conditionally deregulated in time for planting in 2011. The lowest percentage of Roundup Ready beet acreage in the survey was reported in Minnesota’s Polk County (49%). Among those survey respondents planting conventional varieties in 2011, pigweed (33%), kochia (27%) and common lambsquarters (20%) were named most often as the “worst weed� problem. A likely reason for pigweed’s ranking was the impact of consistent and excessive rainfall during the growing season. “None� was reported most frequently as the “worst weed� issue by those growers planting Roundup Ready beets last year. About 10% of respondents’ 2011 Roundup Ready acres received a cultivation to aid with weed control. That compares with 97% of conventional beet acres (when accounting for more than one cultivation pass on some acreage). �

THE SUGARBEET GROWER (Upper Midwest) February 2012

We’re firmly rooted in sugarbeets. After all, we’ve been a part of your industry for more than 100 years, beginning with Syngenta’s Hilleshög brand sugarbeet seed. Syngenta continues to roll out innovative products, like Inspire® XT fungicide and CruiserMaxx® Sugarbeets insecticide/fungicide seed treatment combination. These are just a few more ways we are working to bring you more vigorous stands and higher beet yields. Our products, along with our local crop experts, field representatives and industry support, demonstrate a commitment to your healthy growth—today and in the future.

©2012 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow all bag tag and label instructions before buying or using Syngenta products. The instructions contain important conditions of sale, including limitations of warranty and remedy. All products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties. Please check with your state or local extension service before buying or using Syngenta products. CruiserMaxx Sugarbeets is a treater-applied combination of separately registered products containing Cruiser 5FS insecticide and three fungicides: Apron XL, Maxim 4FS and Dynasty. Apron XL®, CruiserMaxx®, Dynasty®, Inspire®, Maxim®, the Alliance Frame, the Purpose Icon and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. Syngenta Customer Center: 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368). MW 18DC2007-P1 1/12

A Search for the Sweet Spot in Beet Production Photo: Peggy Greb

Idaho USDA-ARS Research Aids in Work to Rein in Rhizomania, Curly Top By Ann Perry he whole point of growing sugarbeets is to produce sugar. But once the beets are harvested and stored for processing, they slowly start to decay, which lowers their sucrose levels. Roots store sugar even more poorly if they originate from fields infested with the virus that causes rhizomania, a disease that also severely affects


Ann Perry is a staff writer for Agricultural Research, a publication of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. This article initially appeared in the January 2012 issue of the magazine.

yield. Resistance genes in sugarbeet help protect the plant from rhizomania, but some strains of the virus have evolved to overcome one of the resistance genes, Rz1. “The economic loss from damage to stored beets is quite large,� says Carl Strausbaugh, who works at the Agricultural Research Service’s Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory located near Kimberly, Idaho. “For instance, if we could figure out how to save even 1% of the sucrose in beets during storage, it could save producers in the Pacific Northwest $4 million every year.� New harvester sales Factory reconditioned used harvesters available with warranty Numerous header options available: 9R20�, 8R22�, 8R20�, 6R30�, 6R20�, 4R30�, 4R28� or inquire for more options Parts and Service



Above: Plant pathologist Carl Strausbaugh rates a beet plant for curly top in the greenhouse at the ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Lab.

The Best Beets For years, Strausbaugh and ARS molecular biologist Imad Eujayl have studied sugarbeets from the field to the processing factory. Eujayl also works at the ARS Kimberly laboratory. The two researchers have made several key findings about the pathology of rhizomania, which is caused by beet necrotic yellow vein virus (BNYVV). Some of their evidence suggests that the right genes can help keep beets from going bad and losing sugar during storage. The team grew around 30 commercial sugarbeet varieties in 2006 and 2007 in fields that were naturally infested with BNYVV. Then they collected samples from each variety — all of which showed some evidence of typical rhizomania infection — and calculated the average sugar content of each variety after at least four months in storage. The scientists found that roots from some varieties stored indoors had lost as much as 100% of their recoverable sugar content, and roots from some varieties stored outdoors had lost as much as 60%. The scientists also observed that the beet varieties that exhibited the greatest rhizomania resistance and the best storability — indicated by the lowest


levels of fungal growth and lowest levels of weight loss from root damage — also had the highest sugar levels. Breeders can use this information to develop new varieties that retain more sugar during storage, based on selecting for storability and improved resistance to rhizomania.

Strausbaugh’s studies also established a whole new model that explains how pathogens succeed in infecting healthy sugarbeets. “The fungus Rhizoctonia solani was thought to be responsible for most of the root rot we see in Idaho sugarbeets, and it does have a certain amount of impact,” Strausbaugh says. “But we found that most root mass is lost to bacterial activity, not fungal activity.” Along with plant geneticist Anne Gillen, who now works in the ARS Crop Genetics Research Unit at Stoneville, Miss., Strausbaugh confirmed that the gram-positive bacterium Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. dextranicum is responsible for around 70% of the loss in beet root mass. “We showed that L. mesenteroides starts the fermentation

Photo: Peggy Greb

Appearances Are Deceiving

USDA-ARS-Kimberly molecular biologist Imad Eujayl scores genetic markers that process in the root mass, which then creates a pathway for other organisms to come in and cause spoilage,” Strausbaugh says. This might sound like business as usual between successful microbes, but results from this research helped to confirm that gram-positive bacteria like L. mesenteroides can be the first

pathogen — and often the most damaging one — involved in the root rot process.

Curtailing Curly Top Every year, western U.S. sugarbeet producers also battle beet curly top virus, which is transmitted by beet


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Photo: Peggy Greb

leafhoppers. Back in the lab, Eujayl set out to develop a set of genetic markers that plant breeders could use in developing curly top-resistant sugarbeet varieties. Strausbaugh and Eujayl started by infecting 200 wild, commercial or other different sugarbeet varieties with curly top. Then they ranked each plant according to the severity of its physical responses to infection. When these visible physical responses are the result of the underlying genetics, they are called “phenotypic” traits. Eujayl then analyzed the phenotypic data with 1,000 sugarbeet DNA genetic markers that had been identified by a process called “diversity array technology” (DArT). He analyzed these markers to identify which ones were associated with the disease-resistance genes. The analysis indicated that 11 of these genetic markers were significantly associated with resistance to curly top — and that five of the 11 markers were linked to the phenotypic resistance trait. “The DArT markers are abundant compared to other marker systems, like simple sequence repeat markers or single nucleotide polymorphism markers,” Eujayl says. “Using DArT allowed us to identify many markers that we would

ARS plant pathologist Carl Strausbaugh (foreground) and technician Joshua Reed mark field plots in a disease screening nursery at Kimberly, Idaho. not have found with the other techniques.” Strausbaugh also conducted a twoyear field study in southern Idaho to see whether curly top damage could be controlled by treating sugarbeet seeds with insecticides, which control the leafhopper that transmits the virus. Working with colleagues, he treated

seeds from four sugarbeet cultivars with one of two commercial pesticides, Poncho Beta or Gaucho. The researchers observed that both insecticides reduced the incidence of curly top in the fields. But as the growing season progressed, plants grown from seeds treated with Poncho Beta produced higher yields — especially in hybrids that were more vulnerable to the disease. Averaged across all tested cultivars, the recoverable sugar content increased 21%. Because of the substantial increase, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used these data sets to issue an emergency exemption for the use of Poncho Beta. Since genetic resistance to curly top is not always available, Poncho treatment will allow for near-normal levels of sugarbeet production, and it also provides an excellent research tool for breeders to use in evaluating other plant diseases. “The environmental footprint from using foliar insecticides to protect young sugarbeet plants is very large,” Strausbaugh says. “[T]reating the seed with Poncho leaves a much smaller environmental footprint and can protect young plants through the early season growth stages, when they’re highly susceptible to curly top.” ❖

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Photo: Carol Windels

What Are Its Long-Term Effects on Aphanomyces & Beet Yield, Quality?

Red River Valley Research Evaluates Impact Eight Years After Lime Application By Carol Windels, Jason Brantner, Albert Sims & Carl Bradley* he spreading of spent lime on sugarbeet fields around Minnesota and eastern North Dakota has increased significantly in recent years — with a primary motivation, in many instances, being to help manage Aphanomyces root rot. The Aphanomyces pathogen is an


* Carol Windels, Jason Brantner and Albert Sims are professor (plant pathology), research fellow (plant pathology) and associate professor (soil science), respectively, with the University of Minnesota Northwest Research & Outreach Center, Crookston. Carl Bradley, currently extension plant pathologist with the University of Illinois, formerly was with North Dakota State University.


economic issue in more than 90% of the township sections planted to sugarbeets in the Red River Valley and, as well, in numerous beet fields in the Southern Minn growing region. After several years of lower activity, the pathogen made a “comeback” in 2011 due to the late planting season along with warm and wet soil conditions. For those growing planting sugarbeets in Aphanomyces-infested fields, management recommendations typically consist of planting early, using tolerant or partially resistant varieties treated with Tachigaren®, and employing certain cultural practices (e.g., cultivation and improved drainage) to avoid or reduce disease pressure. But when the inoculum densities are high and the soil is warm and wet, these measures may not be enough — with the result being poor-yielding or even abandoned fields. That’s where spent lime from the region’s beet factories comes into play. The seven factories in the Red River Valley and southern Minnesota generate about 500,000 tons (dry weight) of spent lime annually. Some has been stockpiled for as long as 20 years. Along with increasing soil pH and supplying crop nutrients, spent lime also has been shown to reduce Aphanomyces on sugarbeets. But how long does it take, following application, for spent lime to have an effect on Aphanomyces? And, for how long does that influence persist?

Those were the core questions addressed in field trials at two Red River Valley locations where several rates of spent lime had been applied eight years previously. Our goals were to (1) determine the lime’s long-term effects on Aphanomyces diseases and (2) measure the lime’s effect on sugarbeet yield and quality. One of two trials was established in a commercial field near Hillsboro, N.D., in October 2003, and the other in a field near Breckenridge, Minn., in April 2004. At that time, the Hillsboro site had a history of moderate Aphanomyces root rot (a soil index value of 48, with 100 being highest possible level) while the Breckenridge field had severe Aphanomyces (soil index value of 98). Spent lime treatments (each replicated four times) at Hillsboro were at rates of zero, five, 10, 20 and 30 tons per acre on a wet-weight basis. (That corresponds to dry weights of zero, 3.3, 6.5, 13 and 19.5 tons, respectively.) At Breckenridge, the rates were zero, five, 10, 15 and 20 wet-weight tons/acre (zero, 2.7, 5.3, 8.0 and 10.6 tons dryweight basis). To allow the lime treatments to stabilize in 2004, corn was sown across the four experiments at Hillsboro, while spring wheat was planted at Breckenridge. Sugarbeets have since been grown in one experiment each year from 2005 to 2011. Corn, wheat and soybeans (and, at Hillsboro, fallow) were rotated onto the other three experiments in the other years. Each experiment plot was one acre in size. In 2011, two Roundup Ready® sugarbeet varieties were sown in one experiment at both locations. Those plots were last planted to sugarbeets four years earlier, in 2007. Standard fertility and production practices were followed to obtain maximum sucrose yield and quality. Here are the results from those two 2011 beet experiments: • Hillsboro — As of June 2011, more than seven and a half years after the lime was applied, soil pH was 7.2 in the non-limed plot, 7.7 in plots treated with five and 10 tons of (wet) lime, and 7.8 where treated with 20 and 30 tons of lime. Those values were very similar to the pH values determined in July of 2004, nine months after the spent lime had been applied. Aphanomyces soil index values were high (ranging from 75 to 100) and were statistically the same in the limed plots and the non-limed control. Table 1 shows the 2011 sugarbeet trial results at Hillsboro, where the Aphanomyces pressure was considered


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Table 1. Hillsboro 2011 / ‘Moderate’ Aphanomyces Disease Lime Rate Stand / 100 Ft. of Row Aphan. 5 WAPx Harvest RRRy (Tons/A) 175 146 0 3.4 175 151 5 2.9 198 182 10 2.3 191 171 20 2.6 182 165 30 2.6 NS NS Linearz *

Yield (Tons/A) 15.5 18.1 18.0 17.5 19.8 **

Rec. Sucrose Gross Rev. (Lbs/A) ($/A) 5,167 903 6,210 1,116 6,410 1,191 6,116 1,118 6,680 1,180 ** *

x Weeks After Planting y Aphanomyces root rot rating, scale of 0-7 with 0 = healthy and 7 = root completely rotted & foliage dead z Significant at P = 0.05 ** = Significant at P = 0.01 NS = Not Significant

Table 2. Breckenridge 2011 / ‘Severe’ Aphanomyces Disease Lime Rate Stand / 100 Ft. of Row Aphan. 5 WAPx Harvest (Tons/A) RRRy 178 33 0 5.6 177 77 5 5.1 176 95 10 4.8 186 126 15 4.2 180 133 20 4.3 NS *** Linearz ***

Yield (Tons/A) 2.5 6.5 7.8 10.4 10.9 ***

Rec. Sucrose Gross Rev. (Lbs/A) ($/A) 738 111 1,966 311 2,380 378 3,258 537 3,404 557 *** ***

x Weeks After Planting y Aphanomyces root rot rating, scale of 0-7 with 0 = healthy and 7 = root completely rotted & foliage dead z Significant at P = 0.05 ** = Significant at P = 0.01 *** = Significant at P = 0.001 NS = Not Significant

“moderate.” There were no significant differences in sugarbeet plant stand among limed and non-limed treatments at 36 days after planning; nor were there differences in the numbers of harvested roots. Disease ratings were highest in the non-limed control

and decreased linearly with increasing rates of lime. Root yield also increased significantly as liming rates increased. • Breckenridge — In June 2011, just over seven years since the lime was applied, soil pH was 6.4 in the non-limed control plots. It was 1.3

Photos: Carol Windels

Below: Breckenridge beet plots in 2011. Noted lime rates were applied in April 2004.


points higher — 7.7 — where limed had been applied at 15 and 20 (wet) tons per acre. The pH values remained nearly identical to those measured just six months after the lime was added in 2004. Maximum Aphanomyces soil index values of 100 occurred across nearly all treatments at the Breckenridge site. Table 2 shows the 2011 sugarbeet data from Breckenridge. Seedling stands at 35 days after planting were not significantly different among nonlimed and any of the limed plots. But by harvest, the numbers of harvested roots were significantly higher for all rates of lime compared to the nonlimed control. Low numbers of roots and severe Aphanomyces root rot in all treatments resulted in very poor yields, although yield, recoverable sucrose per acre and revenue per acre did increase along with liming rates. Overall, however, economic returns were very poor. What can be concluded from the 2011 findings? There are three main points: • In the eighth growing season after application of spent lime, there was a significant reduction in Aphanomyces root rot — and higher yields — at Hillsboro, where disease pressure was moderate. • At Breckenridge, where disease pressure was intense and prolonged (several weeks), the addition of lime also reduced Aphanomyces root rot and increased beet yield compared to the non-limed control. However, even the best management practices resulted in insufficient disease control and non-economic yields. • Soil pH levels initially increased with application of spent lime and have remained relatively stable across the several years since the lime was applied. Also, Aphanomyces soil index values are high at both locations, regardless of the rate of spent lime applied to the soil seven to eight years ago. Under prolonged environmental conditions that are highly favorable for disease (especially in soils with high populations of Aphanomyces), even the best management practices — plant resistance, Tachigaren seed treatment, good soil drainage, early planting and application of factory lime — fail. Under such conditions, the pathogen predominates, overriding plant resistance and all other management strategies. In a more-typical season, however, the same management practices are effective, economic strategies for managing this disease. ❖


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Around The Industry Mich. Bean & Beet Symposium Takes Place Feb. 21 in Saginaw The 2012 Michigan Bean & Beet Symposium & Trade Show takes place on Tuesday, February 21, at the Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw. The event starts at 9:30 a.m. with a welcome and introductions by Steve Poindexter, senior sugarbeet extension educator with Michigan State University. That’s followed by Barry Jacobson, Montana State University plant pathologist, speaking on “Sugarbeet Research on New Seed Treatments and Rhizoctonia Control.” The morning session concludes with James Hoorman, Ohio State University Extension Service, speaking on “The Biology of Soil Compaction.” The afternoon program is comprised

of several dry bean production and marketing presentations. About 90 commercial vendors will be in attendance during the event, which typically attracts about 1,000 participants. For more information, contact either Steve Poindexter or Melissa Meier of the MSU Saginaw County Extension Office at (989) 758-2500.

29th International Sweetener Symposium Set for Aug. 3-8 The 29th International Sweetener Symposium, hosted by the American Sugar Alliance, is scheduled for August 3-8 at the Coeur d’Alene Golf & Spa Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Preliminary information is available on ASA’s website — — with more program and registration de-

Of Course He’ll Be a Sugarbeet Grower! If his entrance into this world is an indicator, the odds are very good that little Wesley Vader will be a sugarbeet producer when he grows up. The photo below was taken when Wesley was four days old and weighing in at 7 pounds. He was born on November 10, the second-to-last day of the 2011 beet harvest on the Vader farm near Akron, Mich. “That last field we finished in had some very large beets, and we knew it was a photo-op we couldn’t pass up,” says Wesley’s mom, Katie. Wes and his big brother, Tom, are the fifth generation on the Vader farm. Their parents, Dan and Katie, farm along with Dan’s parents, Doug and Vickie, and his grandparents, Donald and Jennie Vader.

tails becoming available this spring. Traditionally, about 400 people attend the International Sweetener Symposium to hear about timely issues of significance affecting the sweetener industry, and to interact with industry colleagues. This year’s event is sure to include discussion of the next farm bill, as well as updates on the U.S. and world sweetener markets.

American Crystal Director Dale Kuehl Passes Unexpectedly The Red River Valley sugarbeet community was saddened by the unexpected death on December 29 of Dale Kuehl, Glyndon, Minn., grower and member of the American Crystal Sugar Company Board of Directors. Kuehl, 54, was serving his second Dale Kuehl term on the Crystal board. He previously was a director and officer of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, and he also served on the International Sugarbeet Institute organizing committee. ❖

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The Sugarbeet Grower Magazine February 2012  
The Sugarbeet Grower Magazine February 2012  

Feature Sugar Beet Articles Arena Valley Success Story Predicting Organic Matter Zones A Search for the Sweet Spot Spent Lime