IRELAND: Beet remains popular despite lack of sugar production

Published: 11/09/2017, 11:40:47 AM

Beet, both sugar and fodder, is plentiful at the minute as farmers continue to pull crops from the ground, according to Ireland's Agriland.

The recent spell of relatively dry weather has led to beet being pulled in good conditions - resulting in clean crops. One farmer reported that there was no need to wash his beet as it was harvested clean.

A lot of the beet available is in the midlands and prices are competitive and variable. Beet suppliers in the midlands are selling their product as far away as the counties of Cavan and Donegal.

A considerable amount of beet has still to be harvested around the country. The surplus beet available for sale looks to be mainly in previous sugar beet strongholds such as the Carlow and Kildare regions.

The high-energy crop is a great alternative to concentrates in animal's diets. 4kg of sugar beet or 5.5kg of fodder beet are the equivalent of 1kg of barley.

Many farmers are still opting to grow fodder beet, which can often yield more t/ha (tonnes per hectare) than sugar beet. On the other hand, fodder beet has a lower dry matter yield than sugar beet. However, sugar beet can provide more energy per tonne.

Beet in the Carlow area is varying in price. Beet out of the heap is selling from EUR38 (US$44.1)/tonne. When loaded with a ‘cleaner' loader, beet is moving for EUR40/t; beet that has been washed and chopped is selling for EUR45-50/tonne.

Moving to Co. Kildare, beet which has not been cleaned is trading for EUR35-EUR40/tonne. Very few farmers are differentiating between fodder and sugar beet, but some fodder beet is being sold for as low as EUR30-EUR35/tonne. Beet that is cleaned and loaded is being sold for a maximum price of EUR44/tonne.

In some areas, washing and chopping is adding up to EUR10/tonne to the price.

Moving west across the country, clean beet is selling for EUR45/tonne - including loading in Co. Galway. The rise in price most likely due to lower supply in the west.

Looking at prices in Tipperary, sugar beet is available for EUR40/tonne and EUR45/tonne washed.