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‘Serving The Nation’s Sugarbeet Community Since 1963’ Volume 52 Number 4 April/May 2013

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

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.

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Page 6 Page 10

— Feature Articles — It’s Our 50th Birthday! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The Sugarbeet Grower’s first issue was May 1963

A Byproduct Success Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Report on Southern Minn spent lime research

‘Keep Watering’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Gary Mamer discusses Imperial Valley beet production

— Regular Pages —

— Front Cover —

Dateline: Washington . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Farm bill and the sugar market

USDA’s initial forecast of 2013 planted sugarbeet acreage pegged it down by 2% from last year.

30 Years Ago . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Excerpts from the April 1983 issue

Photo: Don Lilleboe

Write Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Dreaming at the Dome

Around the Industry . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Who, what & where it’s happening



It’s Our 50th Birthday! Inaugural Issue of The Sugarbeet Grower Was Published in May 1963

he Sugarbeet Grower has reached a big milestone! The first issue of this magazine was published 50 years ago this spring, in May of 1963. It began as a tabloid, published quarterly by the Western Sugarbeet Growers Association, Inc. Its editor was Aldrich C. (“Al”) Bloomquist, executive secretary of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association and later vice president and then president of American Crystal Sugar Company. (We paid tribute to Al, who passed away last August at age 91, in our November/December issue.) “The Sugarbeet Grower was conceived to better inform the membership of sugarbeet grower and development associations affiliated with Western Sugarbeet Growers Association, Inc. of what’s going on in the wonderfully exciting and moving world of sugar,” Al wrote in that inaugural issue. “We are hopeful that thru the pages of the The Sugarbeet Grower you will be better informed about the complexities and workings of the Sugar Act. We hope you will have a better understanding of the Association of which you are a member and the plans, activities and accomplishments of that group. “We hope you will be a better grower because of information on research and new techniques practiced by growers in other areas,” he continued. “We hope that we can in time tell the story of the individual accomplishments of many individual growers. We hope, too, to tell the story of the many and varied organizations which make up this wondrous world of sugar.” The Western Sugarbeet Growers Association (WSGA) existed from about 1940 to 1965, drawing its membership mainly from states where American Crystal Sugar Company (still a private stock company in that era) operated beet sugar factories. The



WSGA’s main objective was to secure congressional legislation that would allow more sugarbeet acreage. As of 1963, the WSGA umbrella encompassed the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association (RRVSGA), the Mason City (Iowa) District Beet Growers Association, the Southern Minnesota Beet Growers Association, the Minnesota-Dakota Beet Development Association and the Tri-County Beet Development Association. Farmers belonging to the RRVSGA, Mason City and Southern Minnesota groups already grew for American Crystal, while the two development associations (Minnesota-Dakota in the far northern Red River Valley region and Tri-County in the Mayville, N.D., area) were seeking expanded beet acreage and factories for their respective areas. Bloomquist had been hired as exec-

utive secretary of RRVSGA in late 1962, according to Roots of Success, a history of the organization. A college journalism graduate, he previously had worked in public relations for the Western Beet Sugar Producers, an industry group funded by several U.S. sugarbeet processors, including American Crystal. “The Western Beet Sugar Producers folded up in 1962, when some of its corporate supporters withdrew their funding,” wrote Roots of Success’ author, Terry Shoptaugh. Headquarters for The Sugarbeet Grower as of the mid-1960s were in Bloomquist’s Moorhead, Minn., home. By 1966, Al was listed as both editor and publisher. Beginning with the January 1968 issue, the publication was converted to the standard magazine size of 8.5 x 11 inches. Bloomquist continued to own and publish The Sugarbeet Grower until 1986, more than a dozen years after Red River Valley growers had purchased American Crystal (a transition in which Al was hugely instrumental). Al hired me in late 1977 to write and edit for The Sugarbeet Grower. I did so until late 1978, working simultaneously with another ag magazine (not owned by Al, but printed by Kaye’s Printing of Fargo, as was The Sugarbeet Grower). Back in 1968, Al had purchased the Gilmore Sugar Manual from a printing company in New Orleans. Gilmore, which had been around since the early 1900s, was (and still is) a technical reference book on the U.S. sugarcane milling sector. Al moved Gilmore operations up to Fargo-Moorhead and then published both The Sugarbeet Grower and Gilmore under the banner of his auxiliary enterprise, “Sugar Publications.” Al sold Sugar Publications to Kaye’s Printing of


Fargo in 1986, and Kaye’s asked me to return as editor and manager of both The Sugarbeet Grower and Gilmore Sugar Manual. I am still here — some 27 years later! Al Bloomquist Kaye’s was sold to Forum Communications Company (FCC) in 1999, and Sugar Publications has been owned by Forum Communications Printing (FCC’s commercial printing division) since then. We were based in the Kaye’s building in downtown Fargo until early 2006, at which time we moved into a new Forum Printing building on the city’s northwest side. o now, 50 years after its first issue hit the mail, The Sugarbeet Grower perseveres — continuing that original commitment to serving the informational needs and interests of sugarbeet producers. My favorite part of the job always has been — and remains — interacting with growers, researchers, sugar company personnel, association leaders


and allied industry. With few exceptions, I have been consistently impressed by the quality of individuals I’ve encountered, and likewise very grateful for their interest and support. During my tenure as editor of The Sugarbeet Grower, I have traveled to every beet-growing area of the U.S. and Canada — often on multiple occasions. I have been fascinated by the variation in growing environment and production practices in the different locales, realizing, of course, that there’s always a reason why each grower uses (or does not use) a particular production regimen or implement in his operation. I have also been gratified by the wonderful cooperation of so many people through the years— growers, ag staff, university and USDA scientists, industry leaders — when I interrupt their day by asking for story ideas or their time for an interview. I often tell people, “I don’t know much; but I usually know who to ask.” And that counts for something. I’m likewise grateful for all those companies who show their confidence, as advertisers, in the value we provide. Without them, this magazine never would have reached the venerable age of 50. The next quarter century is certain

to bring major changes — some more profound than anything experienced during the past 25 years, the past 50 years. Well, I won’t be here for the 75th anniversary of this Don Lilleboe magazine’s founding. But I do hope and trust the sugarbeet industry will be thriving in 2038 — and that The Sugarbeet Grower will still be serving it. It has been a wonderfully symbiotic relationship, and I am proud to have played a role in it. By the way, the above photo of me represents, I believe, only the second or third time I’ve been pictured in this magazine during all the years I’ve served as its editor. I’m not a publicity seeker by nature, but I did conclude it would be appropriate to put it here, given the reason for this article — and the fact that I’ve spent much of my career asking others to allow me to place photos of them on these pages. My sincere thanks and continued best wishes to you, our valued readers. You remain, after all, the very reason we’re here. — Don Lilleboe ❖

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A Byproduct Success Story lncreased Spent Lime Usage in Southern Minn Affirmed by University/Co-op Research Results he spreading of spent lime (moretechnically known as Precipitated Calcium Carbonate, or PCC) on upcoming sugarbeet fields has really taken off during the past decade among Upper Midwest beet growers. Along with increasing pH and influencing the soil nutrients, the spent lime has been demonstrated to reduce the impact of Aphanomyces and Rhizoctonia root rot in infested fields. The region’s most recently reported research on spent lime’s benefits comes from the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMBSC), where the use of PCC has expanded six-fold since 2001. Based on this use pattern, the projection is that within five years the Southern Minn factory PCC pile will be reduced significantly beyond what it already has been. The annual PCC production by SMBSC will be available on a long-term basis for growers to use for their benefit, SMBSC agronomists Mark Bredehoeft and Chris Dunsmore, in conjunction with University of Minnesota soil

Photo: Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative



scientist John Lamb, have summarized five years of studies (2008-12) on the use of PCC. Their results show increases in sugarbeet and corn yields of 23-36% and 22-35%, respectively, when either four, eight of 12 tons of PCC were applied per acre. The SMBSC work indicates that PCC applied two years in advance of crop production was the most advantageous, compared to one and three years. For sugarbeets, the biggest advantage came when beets were planted in the second year (after soybeans and then corn) following the application of 12 tons of spent lime per acre. There, beet yields were nearly 27% higher than the mean yield. When beets were grown in the second year after the application of eight tons of lime, the yields were 20% higher than the mean; after four tons of lime two years previous, the beet yields were nearly 14% greater than the mean. In all cases, the applied nitrogen rate was 110 pounds per acre on the beets and 140 pounds in the preceding year’s corn.

The SMBSC research also looked at the effect of PCC on Rhizoctonia. A summary of results from 2009 and 2010 shows that when four tons per acre of PCC were applied to soils inoculated with Rhizoctonia solani subpopulation AG 2-2 IIB, sugarbeet root yield was 4.3 tons higher than where no PCC was applied to the inoculated soil. The difference was smaller where sub-population AG 2-2 IVA was inoculated. There, the benefit from four tons of PCC was just 0.8 ton, well below the least significant difference (LSD at alpha level 0.05) of 3.8 tons. In the case where there was no inoculated disease treatment, the yield benefit from four tons of PCC was 2.9 tons per acre, versus where there was no PCC applied. This increase was not statistically significant, however. he investigation, promotion and use success of PCC on crop production has been a collaborative effort by sugarbeet growers, university researchers, agricultural retail industry, crop consultants and the sugarbeet industry. University researchers John Lamb and Dr. Albert Sims (soil scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Northwest Research and Outreach Center, Crookston) conducted a significant amount of research in cooperation with Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative to show the influence PCC can have on crop production — and the benefits to the soil as a natural additive. The agricultural retail industry and crop consultants have taken the time to look at the benefits of PCC with an open mind. There has been significant communication between the ag industry, crop consultants and SMBSC to provide a quality product to the grower. The University of Minnesota also has been instrumental in disseminating the information to the agricultural retail industry, consultants and growers. Southern Minnesota growers have accepted the research conducted by SMBSC and the university. They’ve taken the advice of crop consultants, ag retailers and co-op ag staff and have applied the PCC with much success. The positive results have led to overwhelming acceptance of PCC application in the region. This collaborative effort has become a success story highlighting the use of a sugarbeet processing byproduct into a crop production enhancement additive. It also is an excellent example of how the university, agricultural industry and growers can work together for the benefit of all. — Mark Bredehoeft ❖





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Dateline: Washington he first three months of 2013 brought us a new Congress that was settling in . . . a second term of a President with a renewed agenda . . . and plenty of battles over the economic course of our nation between the House, Senate and the White House. Spirited debates over fiscal cliffs, sequestration, continuing resolutions, debt ceiling increases, etc., focused on where more money could be raised for the federal government and where and how to cut spending. Sprinkle in a spirited debate over gun control and a race by both parties to fix a broken immigration and guest worker system to attract the ever-increasing and influential Latino vote in state and national elections. It has not been an easy three months, but tough decisions are never easy. Everyone agrees that across-theboard spending cuts (sequestration) are the worst way to reduce federal spending; but allowing it to occur sets in motion congressional efforts to find a better way of reducing spending. All of the committees in Congress will have an obligation to find ways to cut expenditures for future programs. The agriculture committees have already shown us that they can accomplish this in a thoughtful way.


Farm Bill — It now appears that the leadership of both houses of Congress wishes to complete a farm bill this year. The House and Senate ag committees will be drafting legislation under two very different budget resolutions. Non-binding, resolutions are a guide as to how much should be cut from programs and policies, but the cuts do not have to all come in the farm bill package. It appears that the Senate is content with the $23 billion reduction over 10 years in agriculture policy that passed the Senate last year, but we are likely to see modifications to proposals on


By Luther Markwart

southern crops (rice and peanuts) that would garner more support for the farm bill from southern senators. The House bill will need more savings — somewhere near the $31 billion over 10 years. The real battle will be over food stamp — or the SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) — spending in the bill. As of the first of April, it now looks like the committees will be drafting the farm bill in May. The committees typically do not like to let their passed bills linger on hold before taking them to the floor to avoid the opponents of the bill the opportunity to rail against it. How and when the bills receive floor consideration remains unclear. As for sugar policy, we see strong support in both agriculture committees, as we did last year. The real fights will be on the floor when each body takes up the debate. It will be critical for the commodity groups and farm organizations to work together and support one another in a unified effort to get the bill passed. When sugar policy opponents in the Senate contemplated attacks in both the continuing resolution and the budget resolution earlier this year, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, along with other commodity groups, stood firm with sugar to oppose harmful amendments. We deeply appreciate their support to defend our policy. In February and March, your grower leaders walked the halls of the House and Senate office buildings to educate members and staff of the need for the continuation of the current sugar provisions and to ask

USDA is working to find creative ways to get the market back in balance as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Executive Vice President American Sugarbeet Growers Assn. them to oppose any proposed amendment. With almost half of the U.S. House having never voted on a farm bill, there is a huge educational process that must be done by congressional leaders and industry representatives. Each and every day, we are explaining the need for our policy to sustain our domestic industry for the benefit of food security for American consumers, rural jobs and putting $20 billion into the U.S. economy at no cost to taxpayers. The Market — Unfortunately, we are in the worst market we have seen in many years. Bumper beet and cane crops in the U.S. and Mexico and excess imports from our other trading partners have clearly resulted in oversupply. In order to avoid sugar forfeitures on August 1, USDA is working feverishly to find creative ways to get the market back in balance as quickly and efficiently as possible. The 2008 farm bill was designed to avoid massive costly forfeitures by removing sugar from the market and disposing of it so it does not overhang the market and cause a multi-year problem. Given the market sensitivity of both timing and volumes of sugar that could be removed from the market this year, USDA is keeping its options very close to the vest. Staffs who are working on the oversupply problem are seasoned professionals, and we are anxiously awaiting an announcement of an action plan to address our problem. The solution is not simple, because we are dealing with a North American market that has three separate industries, different domestic sugar policies and no trade restrictions. 2013 Acreage — While U.S. beet acreage is projected to be down by 19,000 this year, a later spring will have a much bigger impact than reduced acreage on final sugar production from the 2013 crop. ❖


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Underscoring U.S. Sugar Policy’s Positive Effect on the Economy — Summary of ASA Testimony to ITC — n testimony delivered to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in March, U.S. sugar producers encouraged the agency to publicly note the positive effect U.S. sugar policy has on the economy. The American Sugar Alliance’s (ASA) testimony cited low U.S. sugar prices, the 142,000 jobs supported by the U.S. industry, growth in the country’s candy business, and recent economic events in Europe’s sugar industry as justification. Every two years the ITC investigates the impact U.S. sugar import restraints have on the economy, and it has systematically moved in the direction of showing no economic harm. The most recent ITC calculation, released in 2011, noted a negligible $49 million loss — down 96% since 2004.



“The ITC, in its last several updates, has moved encouragingly toward the ASA’s long-held position that U.S. sugar policy and import restraints provide a net benefit to the U.S. economy, and not a net cost,” explained ASA economist Jack Roney, who testified on the industry’s behalf. ASA believes that if the ITC properly accounts for all the jobs tied to U.S. sugar production and acknowledges that global sugar prices are at or above U.S. sugar prices, then showing an economic benefit from sugar policy will be likely. The spreads between U.S. prices and the heavily subsidized world dump sugar market have long been ITC’s reason for showing any economic harm. However, since the last ITC update, U.S. sugar prices have

fallen sharply and have converged with dump market prices. Roney further explained that even sugar policy’s biggest critics — large confectioners — have expanded production in recent years and are booking impressive profit margins. These food manufacturers are currently pocketing falling ingredient costs to further boost profits instead of passing along savings to consumers, he noted. ITC was encouraged to look to Europe for proof of the economic damage that occurs when a country becomes much more dependent on imports. “[EU sugar] production fell by 20%, 83 mills closed, and 120,000 jobs were lost” after it “reformed its sugar regime in 2006,” according to ASA. In addition, EU sugar prices rose, food makers had trouble sourcing sugar, and food prices climbed. Roney also noted that world average retail sugar prices are 14% higher than U.S. prices as further proof that American consumers benefit from U.S. sugar policy. “As a result of these factors and experiences, we urge the ITC to find there would be a net cost to U.S. society absent U.S. import restraints, rather than a net benefit,” Roney concluded. ❖

THE SUGARBEET GROWER (Upper Midwest) April/May 2013

Acreage Projection Places Beets Down 2% SDA’s first projection of 2013 U.S. planted sugarbeet acreage put the number at 2% below that of 2012. The


March-released projected plantings report forecast 1,211,100 planted beet acres this year — 19,000 under last



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year’s final number of 1,230,100. Percentage-wise, the biggest projected increase was in Wyoming, where the forecast calls for a total of 39,000 acres this year (compared to 31,800 in 2012). North Dakota is projected to be up slightly (230,000 versus 222,000 last year), while Michigan and California each are pegged at identical levels to 2012. At a forecast 43,800, Nebraska’s 2013 planted acreage would be down 14% from last year’s 51,000. Other states showed projected declines of from 3% (Minnesota) to 7% (Colorado). Total U.S. planted beet acreage in 2011 was 1,232,800. The 2010 planted acreage ended up at 1,171,000. The next USDA planted acreage report will be released in late June. The all-time planted acreage record for U.S. sugarbeets is 1,647,100 — set back in 1969. The harvested acreage total that year was 1,540,500. The average yield in 1969 was 18 tons, for a total production level of nearly 27.74 million tons. During the three-year period of 2010-12, by comparison, harvested acreage averaged 1,191,200; yields averaged 26.9 tons; and total beet production averaged 32.06 million tons. ❖

THE SUGARBEET GROWER (Upper Midwest) April/May 2013

30 Years Ago Early Delivery Plan Wins Grower Support â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Minidoka County (Idaho) beet growers are still enthused about their early delivery program of 1982. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The growers asked Amalgamated Sugar Company if they would contract additional acres with the stipulation that these beets would be delivered earlier than normal. The company agreed and growers planted and harvested 4,500 acres. These acres produced a total of 88,244 tons of beets â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an average of 19.39 tons per acre. Sugar content was 14.07%. (Regular harvest beets averaged 22.19 tons per acre with a sugar content of 15.16%.) â&#x20AC;&#x153;The initial payment of $26.63 per ton totaled $2,023,676. Growers compared these results: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Had this same 4,500 acres been planted to: Barley @ 110 bu. per acre x $2.25 = $247.50, totaling $1,113,750; Wheat @ 85 bu. per acre x $3.50 = $297.50, totaling $1,338,750; Beans @ 20 bags per acre x $11.00 = $220.00, totaling $990,000. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Needless to say, early delivery is a part of the 1983 program for Minidoka growers.â&#x20AC;? Clarksburg Now Grower Owned â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;California growers who grow beets for the Clarksburg plant of Amer-

Excerpts from the April 1983 Issue of The Sugarbeet Grower

ican Crystal Sugar Company have taken the bull by the horns and are now the owners â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and still growers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; of the Clarksburg beet sugar factory. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The story started some months ago. American Crystal served notice that (1) American Crystal would operate the factory in 1983 only if the beet purchase agreement was rewritten as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;nonlossâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; contract to Crystal, or (2) that a new operator or buyer could be found for the plant, or (3) that the Clarksburg growers would form a cooperative and purchase the plant. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A buying group emerged â&#x20AC;&#x201D; consisting of foreign interests and the present growers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and a company was formed, Delta Sugar Company. An offer was made to Crystal, accepted by Crystal and it appeared everything was in order. But, the foreign interests withdrew at the last second. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Growers in the Clarksburg area, still wanting to grow beets, and Crystal started negotiations all over. The negotiations were successful and a new deal was made. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The new group, Clarksburg-Dixon, Inc., signed a contract to purchase, with Crystal continuing managing operations for one year. After that, Clarksburg-Dixon will be owned and managed by growers, but not as a cooperative.â&#x20AC;? â?&#x2013;


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Photos:â&#x20AC;&#x2C6;Don Lilleboe

Left: This is scheduled to be the ďŹ nal 2013 Mamer beet ďŹ eld to be harvested. It was planted the second week in October; photo taken in early February.

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Keep Wateringâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Veteran Grower Gary Mamer Talks About Raising Sugarbeets in the Imperial Valley s of the first of April, sugarbeet growers in the Red River Valley were still waiting for the snowpack to melt and the soil to warm up so they could head out to their fields and get ready to put the 2013 beet crop in the ground.


As of the first of April, Gary Mamer and his fellow growers in the Imperial Valley were getting ready to begin the 2013 beet harvest â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a campaign that will ultimately stretch through July and probably into early August. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just one difference between New harvester sales Factory reconditioned used harvesters available with warranty Numerous header options available: 9R20â&#x20AC;?, 8R22â&#x20AC;?, 8R20â&#x20AC;?, 6R30â&#x20AC;?, 6R20â&#x20AC;?, 4R30â&#x20AC;?, 4R28â&#x20AC;? or inquire for more options Parts and Service



raising sugarbeets in Minnesota and North Dakota versus the southern edge of California. When one region nudges up against the Canadian border while the other rubs elbows with Mexico, there are bound to be many more. Desert farming runs deep in Gary Mamerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s genes. On his maternal side, great-grandfather T.B. Shank came to the Imperial Valley in the early 1900s â&#x20AC;&#x201D; right about the time irrigation water from the Colorado River first began flowing via canal over to the Valley. Paternally, the Brawley farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s area roots go back three generations. He jokingly describes himself as a bona fide â&#x20AC;&#x153;desert ratâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; much more at ease in the Imperial Valleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heat than he would be in more-northerly climates. By the time heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d finished a couple years of college, Mamer knew exactly what he wanted to do for a career: come back to the Imperial Valley and farm. That was in 1978, and Gary and his dad, Gordon, farmed together for another 23 years. They were planting twin-row beets on 44-inch beds at the time. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That worked really well for later-season beets; but we could never make the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Top 10â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;? in terms of per-acre sugar production, he recalls. While his dad wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t too keen on moving to 30inch single rows, Gary was adamant. They made the switch in the mid-1980s. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lo and behold, we got â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Top 10â&#x20AC;&#x2122; the first year outâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and never looked back. The Mamer farm currently includes 560 acres of sugarbeets out of 2,100 total. His cropping sequence usually consists of three years of hay, followed by sugarbeets. He typically plants wheat (or occasionally Sudan grass) after the sugarbeets; then comes back a year later with another beet crop, after which itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s back to hay. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the standard rotation on my farm, as I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;produce gameâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (e.g., spinach, broccoli, onions).â&#x20AC;? Farming in the Imperial Valley is, of course, a year-round proposition. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always some field operation going on, be it ground preparation, spraying, tillage or harvesting. For sugarbeets, everything works backward from a given fieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s anticipated harvest date. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We get done digging on what we call â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;July 41st,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;? Mamer quips in reference to the beet harvest commonly stretching from April into August. Because they are planting their beet fields based on a projected â&#x20AC;&#x153;early,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;midâ&#x20AC;?


or “late” harvest date, Mamer and his fellow Imperial Valley producers traditionally have used different varieties, depending upon each field’s digging timetable. A variety with superior root rot tolerance, for instance, typically has been planted for late-season fields since it can better withstand summer’s extreme heat. Currently, however, Mamer seeds most of his beet ground to a single variety — Betaseed’s BTS 4521R, a conventional variety — because he’s confident he can manage it to produce well across the various harvest scenarios. (Valley-wide, about 6,800 acres out of the 24,500 total are planted to Roundup Ready® varieties this year. That percentage is expected to increase as additional agronomically strong Roundup Ready varieties become available for this market.)

Not Exactly Minimum-Till Planting of the Imperial Valley sugarbeet crop normally begins in early September and can often stretch into October, depending on temperatures and periodic rain delays. But there’s a lot of field prep that goes on before the planter ever pulls into the field. What’s the standard regimen at Mamer Farms? “Let’s say I’m going with beets after wheat,” Gary begins. As soon as the wheat has been harvested in June, “we’ll stubble disk the field once, then go in and chisel it to either 24 or 28 inches.” After a corrugator pass, the field is flooded, followed by another disking. That process encompasses 30 to 40 days. Then soil samples are drawn to determine how much nitrogen and phosphorus will be needed for the beets. Mamer’s testing service typically pulls six samples from each field: two on the head end, two in the middle and two more toward the bottom. Next the field is disked, tri-planed; then disked and tri-planed a second time. “Then we go in and list the beds. At that time, if we need some extra phosphate, we’ll probably put down 100 pounds of 11-52-0.” The beds are then folded over, “and I’ll generally put in some 10-34-0 at that time” along with a shot of Hydra-Hume. “I run less fertilizer on the front (early) beets and the last beets,” Mamer adds. “With those late beets, the taproot will go find it in our soils, with the tile lines at six feet. Generally, too, they’ll pick up some extra fertilizer that has been ‘pushed down’ over the years.” Actual fertilizer rates depend, of course, on the soil test results. In-season leaf petiole sampling determines “whether


Gary Mamer we need to add a bit more in January or February.” Beds on the early and mid fields are usually watered first. “We’ll set up the head end, ‘punch the pipe’ or run siphons, water it — and come back 10 to 15 days later” with a Lilliston cultivator pass, Mamer says. “Then, probably within a week to 10 days, we’re ready to plant that field.” If a field is being planted in midSeptember, the seed spacing will be significantly tighter compared to a field being planted in early or mid-October. Heat, salt and the periodic heavy rain are the reasons why. “We have to make sure we get a good stand despite all that,” Mamer points out. “We still have the salt later on; but the ‘weather side’ isn’t as big. So we can widen out our

spacing — and the beets generally come up quicker, too.” After planting, the water flows again for four to five days; is shut off for another three or four days; then gets turned back on “to make sure we have a good stand. Once we’re satisfied with the stand, we cultivate the beds. And if we have a bunch of weeds somewhere in the field, that’s also the best time to go in with a small crew and take them out.” After watering back, “we’ll furrow pack out: take the weeds again with one side knife, making a little deeper furrow. At that point, if the field has some wild beets, we come in with a shot of Treflan and Outlook. Spraying that and ‘Lilliston-ing’ it up helps control the weeds.” If the weed population warrants, he can also incorporate an application of Eptam with the irrigation water. “Then we’re off to the races. You just keep watering the field” until harvest nears.

That All-Important Water Sugarbeet growers in the Imperial Valley do not presently operate under water restrictions. That may change in the future; but to date, “we’ve been able to have enough water at our discretion to use as we see fit,” Mamer says. The high salt content of Valley soils is managed mainly through tiling and summer flood irrigation. “We make sure our tile lines are clean, chisel anywhere from 24 to 28 inches deep — and then do that summer flood,” he ex-






plains. “Once the water is running across the top of the field, it tends to push the salts deeper,” away from the beet growth zone. “If you want to get rid of even more salts, you’re better off leveling the field,” Mamer continues. “Make it nice and flat, with a little bit of fall so the water drains off the lower end.” But, he adds, no one wants to drain off too much water, either. The Imperial Irrigation District operates gauges on field headgates and tailgates to monitor field runoff. “We’re always watching that.

We don’t like extra waste water,” Mamer emphasizes. “There’s no reason to put more [salty] water into the [Salton] Sea.” The veteran grower and board member of the California Beet Growers Association admits that the water needs of sugarbeets can be harder to gauge than some of his other crops — especially during the winter months. While some growers use more “high-tech” methods for scheduling irrigation, he still relies largely on “the old-fashioned way of pulling the sugarbeet out of the ground.

If there’s mud sticking to it, don’t water. If the dirt falls off and the taproot is clean, turn the water on.” As the season progresses and harvest approaches, however, “there’s a ‘fine line’ in keeping the moisture more constant. We don’t want cracks developing in the root. The beets get so big here that the cell walls on the outside can split and cracks develop. You don’t want water hitting that” and contributing to more root rot. So, while water sets in February commonly run for 24 hours, “once we get into June and onward — especially with all the later-harvested beets — we’ll go to 12- to 14-hour sets.” Also, those sets will be conducted during the evening and nighttime hours.

Harvesting at 100+ Degrees When you have beets growing for 10 or 11 months under ample irrigation and with lots of heat units, you’re likely to end up with some excellent yields. The average Imperial Valley yield this past harvest season was 46.5 tons per acre (a record), with sugar content just a shade under 16%. This is the environment, after all, where a new worldrecord beet field seems to be achieved every two or three years. On Gary Mamer’s own farm, one section of a 2012 beet field pushed 80-plus tons per acre. Given the length of the harvest season and variance in beet root size from early fields to late fields, “we’re always adjusting the digger, up or down” Mamer allows. “We’re always asking our truckers, ‘How’s our dirt going?’ ” Digging speeds are slow, especially on later-harvested fields with their exceptionally large beets. “Our taproots go pretty deep, so we’re careful not to break off too much,” he says. “With the size of our beets, we’re concerned about slicing them, too, so we’re always moving the row finder one way or the other to make sure it’s dead center.” Because of the mass of foliage, Mamer runs a flail chopper through his fields a day ahead of the defoliator pass. “That chopper really takes off a lot of the foliage and helps the [defoliator] do a much better job,” he affirms. And what about the dynamics of harvesting beets when temperatures hover well above 100 degrees? “All our guys are pretty spoiled these days,” Mamer smiles. “Everything has AC in it. So as long as you keep rolling, you’re fine. You’re going to break down occasionally; but we don’t know any differently. “It is what it is.” — Don Lilleboe ❖



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There were ways to kill the weeds And give your beets more health. Solutions for your workload While adding to your wealth. A way to keep your trucks from getting Stuck in harvest goo. And Safety Pulls to get them out When they finally do.

By David Kragnes

A better way to change your oil, New wrenches for your shop. Things to make life easier At every service stop. Tracks and tires and tractors Lined up red and green and blue. Sprayers, spreaders, planters, And beet carts were there too.

Dreaming At the Dome I went to the Beet Show In Fargo at the Dome. 1 It’s handyTGSTnBedder4.75x5BWFINAL.pdf when it’s there And only twenty miles from home.

There were salesmen everywhere From all over the land. 12/17/12 Intent 11:59 to sellAMequipment From every vendor stand.


The harvesters, well let me say It’s gotten out of hand, What you can spend to separate Your beet crop from the land. Trucks so big and shiny With hoods all soaked in wax. They’ll tell you it costs little When you figure in the tax. But for my operation This stuff costs way too much. So just like when I’m at the beach I’ll have to look, not touch.

David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. A former board chairman of American Crystal Sugar Company, he currently serves on the board of directors of CoBank.









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Around The Industry Plant Pathologist Windels Retires From NWROC at Crookston, Minn.

guished Service Award from the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota, the Meritorious Service Award bestowed by the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists, and Fellow of both APS and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Stachler Joins Willowood USA as Northern Plains Account Manager

Carol Windels Well-known sugarbeet plant pathologist Dr. Carol Windels retired at the end of 2012 from the University of Minnesota’s Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC), Crookston. Windels earned a B.S. degree in biology from St. Cloud State College in 1970, followed by M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. In 1984 she was appointed assistant professor at the Crookston Northwest Experiment Station (now NWROC). She was promoted to associate professor in 1989 and professor in 1998. She likewise held an adjunct appointment in the North Dakota State University Department of Plant Pathology. Windels became widely known and highly respected for her research in soilborne diseases of sugarbeet, including Aphanomyces, Phythium and Rhizoctonia. “Her major contributions to the understanding of these diseases and their management have led to her status as a world-renowned expert of sugarbeet diseases,” noted a recent article in Phytopathology News, the newsletter of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), the national professional society of plant pathologists. “A strong commitment to and close rapport with growers developed through her 28 years of research and extension work. Her efforts resulted in more than 200 publications, 16 book chapters, and two co-edited books.” Windels, who served as the president of APS in 1998-99, received a number of honors and awards during her career. Among them were the Distin-


Dr. Jeff Stachler has joined Willowood USA as the company’s new regional account manager in its newly created Northern Plains geography. Originally from west central Ohio, Stachler earned his B.S. degree in agronomy from Ohio State University. After completing an M.S. degree Jeff Stachler at Michigan State University, he returned to Ohio State and earned his Ph.D. there in crop and weed science. Stachler was extension sugarbeet weed specialist and assistant professor at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota from 2008 until joining Willowood. He is the author or co-author of numerous publications in the areas of weed identification and resistance management. “Jeff is considered by many as an expert in the area of weed resistance management” states Andy King, Willowood USA’s national sales manager. “Adding a person of Jeff’s caliber to our account management team will not only strengthen our entire sales organization, but will also provide growers in the Northern Plains geography a ‘go-to guy’ for dealing with the ever-present and growing weed resistance issue.” Stachler’s territory includes Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. He is based at Kindred, N.D. Willowood USA is an Oregon-based manufacturer of post-patent crop protection herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, plant growth regulators and spray additive products for the agriculture and vegetation management industries.

Sugarbeet Scholarship Program Again Sponsored by Syngenta Syngenta is accepting applications for its annual Syngenta Sugarbeet Scholarship program through June 14. Students must submit an essay for judging, and the student with the highest score in each of the five eligible regions will receive $1,500 for his or her college tuition. The scholarship program, now in its fourth year, is intended to help equip the next generation with the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to the advancement of the sugarbeet industry. Student entrants must meet the following criteria: (1) Be a current high school senior or college freshman, sophomore or junior. (2) Be majoring in (or intending to major in) an agriculturerelated field. (3) Be attending college during the 2013/14 academic year. (4) Attend school or reside in one of the following sugarbeet-growing regions: Region 1 — Idaho/Washington; Region 2 — North Dakota; Region 3 — Minnesota; Region 4 — Wyoming/Colorado/Nebraska/Montana; Region 5 — Michigan. (5) Be involved in 4-H, FFA and/or the sugarbeet industry. Applicants can complete the application form found at As part of the application, they will be asked to describe their involvement in 4-H, FFA and/or the sugarbeet industry, and submit an essay in 700 words or less that answers the following question: What do you see as the biggest challenge to sugarbeet production or the industry in general, and why? Also, what do you recommend the industry consider to address this problem? Applications are due by June 14, 2013, and can be submitted online or sent to: Emily Reynolds, Gibbs & Soell, 125 S. Wacker Drive, Ste 2600, Chicago, IL 60606. She also can be contacted at: phone: (312) 648-6700; fax: (312) 4220660; email: This year’s scholarship winners will be announced in August. Previous sugarbeet scholarship winners are not eligible for future additional scholarship awards. For further details on the program, visit ❖


The Sugarbeet Grower Magazine April/May 2013  
The Sugarbeet Grower Magazine April/May 2013  

California's Gary Mamer, Minnesota Lime Research, We Celebrate 50 Years!