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Sugarbeet Growers Magazine March 2014 : Page 18

also can damage or kill recently emerged plants. Growers often plant cover crops for protection against such winds, but replanting the beet crop is necessary in some instances. • Fertilizer — Gerstenberger ex-plained to the urban New York audi-ence how growers annually test their soils for mineral deficiencies. Using new technologies, they map fields to see exactly where fertilizer is needed, and to what degree, and then apply it on a variable-rate basis as needed. Cost of fertilizers have increased by about 550% since 1985, he noted. • Water — Water is essential for any crop, but farmers often deal with “too much” or “too little” dilemmas. In Michigan and the Minnesota/eastern North Dakota growing region, where most beet acreage is not irrigated, “too wet in spring” conditions can lead to late planting dates and/or soil crusting prior to emergence. “Too wet in fall” can delay or complicate the harvest. “Too fast” water (hard rains during the growing season) may result in field ero-sion and/or drowned-out crops. Fre-quent rainfall events also often translate into delays in applying crop protection products. In the more-arid western growing regions, where all the beets are irri-gated, the cost of irrigating can range from $25 to $100 per acre, Gersten-berger noted. Surface water sources supply some of the irrigation needs; well water the rest. In some areas, farmers increasingly face competition for limited water resources from ex-panding urbanization. • Crop Insurance — Beet growers can purchase replant coverage at a fixed price per acre, Gerstenberger ex-plained, and they also buy crop insur-ance to cover in-season damage to the crop or the entire loss of their crop. In 2013, U.S. sugarbeet producers paid a total of $28 million in crop insurance premiums. Galen Lee: Research, Equipment, Labor, Successor Ownership, Bankers — Lee briefly outlined the scope of current USDA-ARS sugarbeet research centered on key areas such as seed ge-netics, insecticides, fungicides, best management practices and beet stor-age. Six ARS locations — Davis, Calif.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Kimberly, Idaho; Beltsville, Md.; East Lansing, Mich.; and Fargo, N.D. — house scientists working with sugarbeets, he pointed out. Their research receives industry financial support in addition to their ARS funding base. Speaking to the equipment a beet grower must have to raise this crop, Lee noted that today’s planters can cost upwards of $300,000; one of the current generation of crop sprayers can be as high as $350,000; a defoliator can run for as much as $100,000; and a sugarbeet harvester can be more than $200,000. The self-propelled topper/ harvesters that some growers now use can retail for more than $700,000. Then there are the trucks, of which most farmers need at least two and sometimes several. Precision farming technology is now commonplace, such as tractors with GPS guidance/auto-steer and GPS-guided sprayers. Successor ownership is a major con-sideration for beet growers, Lee said. It encompasses the transfer of not only land and equipment, but also of one’s shares in the sugar cooperative. Fam-ily or neighbors often are the pur-chasers, but not always. Also, sustaining a sugar cooperative requires a critical mass of other growers, with stability, security and profitability being primary considerations as they decide whether to retain the shares AT7000 TM 37R30 Maximum acres,          Jet Stream Coulter Injection or Knife Injection AT7000 TM 25R30 Optional in-line walking tandems ® 800-658-3127 LU J ET 18 www.B LU -J ET .com LU J ET 01 THE SUGARBEET GROWER March 2014

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