Sugar beet campaign looks set to be bumper year for West Norfolk farmers

Sugar beet harvest 2014
Sugar beet harvest 2014
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West Norfolk farmers are looking at recording a bumper crop in the sugar beet campaign after good growing conditions last summer were followed by a virtually frost-free winter.

The campaign is due to end imminently, but one farmer, Roger Eyles, from Northwold, delivered his last load of sugar beet grown on 66 hectares of his farm, B A Eyles and Sons, last Friday.

“I have been very fortunate and it’s been very easy this season,” he said. “The wet weather has not affected me as I have light soil. Wet conditions have the potential to damage the soil structure.

“This year’s healthy crop follows on from good growing conditions throughout the summer last year. We irrigated the crop in the summer, although this is an expense which has to be taken into account. We have had virtually no frost since Christmas, so therefore have not suffered from damage which it can cause.

“We are fortunate to be beside the River Wissey here and have two extraction licences, one for summer and one for winter.”

Mr Eyles believes that the campaign should be shorter to ensure crops are fresher and therefore healthier by being lifted and taken off to Wissington factory, rather than being left in heaps when it can deteriorate before transportation.

He said: “It would also reduce the amount of damage to the land, such as ruts left by machinery, and we would be able to get on sooner with preparing land in readiness for future crops,”

A spokesman from British Sugar confirmed that this year’s yields were looking promising. He said: “The crop grew well in the latter part of the season and has given some very respectable yields for many growers.

“The campaign will finish at Bury St Edmunds and Cantley by the end of February and at Wissington and Newark by mid-March.

“Campaign lengths vary according to how well the crop grows and this has resulted in a longer season in 2013/14 than the previous year. Additional late delivery payments are paid to growers on deliveries from late December through to campaign end.”