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David Sparks Ph.d No Till Sugar Beets
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: April 09, 2019

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In the heart of sugar beet country—Just outside of Burley the sugar beet is king and it is ground zero for high beet yield production.

Producers here routinely break yield records, averaging 41 tons per acre. But there's a farmer here who’s doing something different. Farmer Ben Beck told us last summer about his no-till beet experiment.  “You can see the corn stalks still standing up. But if you plant these beets on this year's corn row, they'll just plug that sucker right up.”

 

That’s right. Beck’s developed a no till operation planting beets right in old corn rows.

 

"The first year was high moisture corn, the second year was high moisture corn we moved moved over 11 inches the second year and these are beets planted in the first year high moisture corn rows.”

 

So they’re in the bottom of the corrugate. So as we look around we have all this residues from the cornfields. That's by design.

 

“Well I think it's by nature.”

 

So I caught up with Beck and asked him how year three of the no till experiment worked out.

 

“We ended up with 31 ton at 1925 sugar and I would say that it was fairly successful it didn't do any more and I did the year before, the stands were good. But everybody had pretty good sugar. The mother nature treated everybody pretty good and I didn't put any more effort in than I did the year before and I felt like I gained and we're going again another year.”

 

Traditional growers hope for 16 percent sugar content on a good year but Beck is hitting high sugar content numbers by doing less.

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