Sugar beet

Growing the crop & wildlife conservation

We sow in March

We apply poultry manure and trace elements just before ploughing and nitrogen shortly after

Weed control:
3-5 low rate herbicide applications from March to May

Insect pest & control:
We control eelworms and aphids using a nematicide (a pesticide that kills eelworms); rabbit and partridge damage can be reduced by temporary net fencing round fields; a seed dressing gives further aphid control

Disease control:
Two fungicide applications during August-September

Threats to the crop:

  • A cold spring slows growth leaving seedlings vulnerable to damage from partridges and skylark
  • On our sandy soils drought is a major threat
  • Rabbit grazing
  • Severe hail storms can damage leaves
  • Severe frosts before harvest can prevent harvesting or damage roots making them unfit for processing

What helps:

  • A warm spring gets small seedlings growing quickly
  • Regular summer rainfall combined with lots of sunshine helps increase sugar yield
  • Our chalky soils hold on to water which helps beet withstand drought
  • Our sandy soil makes harvest easier in wet weather

Wildlife conservation:

Harvest & what the crop is used for

Our beet are harvested by contractors from November to February

Caring for the crop:
After harvesting, we store beet in heaps, called ‘clamps’. If necessary, the clamps can be insulated against cold using straw or woven sheeting. Contractors then cart the beet to the British Sugar factory at Wissington. We hold beet in clamps for as short a time as possible because beet can lose quality while in storage, especially in unusually warm or cold conditions

What it is used for:
Beet is turned into sugar or sugar-based products like molasses. About 16-19% of a sugar beet is sugar

The bits of beet left after sugar extraction are used as animal feed (called ‘beet pulp’)

Sugar Beet Growing
Beet field headland with a small section protected from grazing wildlife, especially rabbits and partridges
Sugar Beet Growing
Beet field in July
Harvesting sugar beet crops
Beet harvesting with our own Armer lifter
Sugar beet being harvested by Russells, Feb 2016
Beet harvesting in 2016
A sugar beet field during harvesting by Russells, Feb 2016
Beet harvesting in 2016