Extreme Weather 

Northwest Beets Set Sugar Content Record, “Cold and Nasty” Weather to thank

2018 looks set to be a record breaking year for Northwest beets –at least as far as sugar content goes– all thanks to the brutally cold weather they’ve been having.

“Sugar content, on average, is just a few decimal points under 18 percent,” said Mark Bjornestad, senior agriculturist for Western Sugar Cooperative, “and we can’t find a time in all of our records that we’ve averaged 18 percent sugar.

And while the tonnage is a little bit disappointing, Bjornestad is all smiles: “From the point of view of the sugar company, we’d rather have the high sugar content.”

Heavy snow accompanied a sharp plunge in temperatures last week, but that’s all good for the beets.

“When it’s cold and nasty for people, it’s really good for the sugar beet harvest,” Bjornestad explained, “as long as there’s not a prolonged freeze.”

The beet harvest was slowed Friday with temperatures in the low 20s.

“We slowed the harvest down in the morning until the frost got out of the beets.

“If there’s any frost on top of the beets and you put enough of it in the pile, it creates moisture that can cause spoilage.

“From my experience, it’s going to be close to Halloween before we’re all in,” Bjornestad said.


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