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Last updated: 2020, March 30

 

How to make sugar beet growing profitable?

 

Author: Dr. Oleksii Orlov

 

 

This article created for Strube, a leading sugar beet breeder in the World

 

 

Now the competition in the sugar beet production market is intensifying due to pressure from world sugarcane producers, and this is taking place against the background of lower sugar prices. But, despite this, growing sugar beets can be very beneficial. In this publication, we will consider those secrets and competitive advantages that will help every farmer or agro-industrialist not only get high profits from growing and processing sugar beets, but also save time, reduce risks, and make their work more efficient.

 

Many farmers all over the World grow precisely Strube sugar beet varieties, as they provide the highest return on investment compared to competitors. Therefore, in conditions of high level competition and unstable sugar prices, when every penny is important, growing just such hybrids will help to get a stable profit (photo Strube)

 

First of all, consider the economics of growing sugar beets. Everyone will be interested about the costs incurred by farmers for growing sugar beets in Germany - in a country where sugar beets yield maximum physical weight and sugar yield per hectare, and this is high-quality sugar beets!

 

 

Economics of growing sugar beets in Germany

Let us show as an example the costs of growing sugar beets in the Sachsen-Anhalt region, Germany. This region is characterized by an average annual rainfall of 522 mm (depending on the place of region, from 477 mm to 618 mm). In this study, generalized data from 132 farms located in different locations of the Saxony-Anhalt region were used.

 

Costs of growing sugar beets in Germany (Sachsen-Anhalt), according to the State Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture in the Saxony-Anhalt region (Sachsen-Anhalt Landesanstalt fur Landwirtschaft und Gartenbau), 2018

 

Average

Yield 2017

Soil fertility, points

Soil fertility, points

Soil quality

 

2012-2016

All farms

AZ 35-65

AZ > 65

Yield

/

680,31

746,14

717,32

770,34

Price

/

3,68

2,94

2,95

2,94

Income

/

2.500,81

2.194,93

2.114,18

2.263,16

 

Sowing and seeds

/

205,12

210,12

214,69

206,28

Soil fertilization

/

129,94

87,44

85,93

88,71

Nitrogen fertilization

/

91,99

87,33

96,58

79,56

Fertilizers, total

/

221,94

174,77

182,51

168,27

Herbicides

/

263,89

259,84

260,16

259,57

Fungicides

/

22,43

20,18

18,75

21,37

Insecticides

/

5,04

1,40

1,48

1,33

Grows regulators and others

/

2,58

1,61

1,90

1,38

Plant Protection, total

/

293,93

283,03

282,29

283,65

Irrigation

/

0,00

0,00

0,00

0,00

Insurance

/

12,85

12,68

13,12

12,30

Direct costs

/

733,84

680,60

692,62

670,50

 

Labor costs

/

85,48

90,64

83,93

96,28

Variable costs for machinery and equipment

/

207,69

166,99

164,25

169,30

Fixed costs for machinery and equipment

/

137,08

144,22

142,78

145,44

/

208,92

220,32

222,68

218,33

 

Labor and equipment costs

/

639,17

622,18

613,63

629,35

Interest rate

/

44,01

26,06

26,13

26,00

 

Production costs

/

1.417,01

1.328,83

1.332,38

1.325,85

 

Profit

/

1.083,80

866,10

781,81

937,31

 

Calculations by companies and sugar factories by 1.2.2018

 

 

Long-term contracts with sugar beet farmers are also practiced, which is very beneficial for farmers and sugar factories. For example, the Nordzucker plant offers the following conditions for farmers:

  • One-year fixed-price contracts that offer the same price level as in 2017. The fixed price for beets is 29 euros per ton

  • One-year variable price contracts. For example, with an estimated sugar price of 450 euros per ton, the price of beets is at 31.90 euros per ton

  • Three year variable price contract. Compared to a variable one-year contract, the price level for a three-year contract is 2 euros higher per ton. For the price of sugar, for example, at 450 euros per ton, the price per ton of beets will be 33.90 euros

 

At the same time, sugar factories in Germany provide a substantial premium for sugar content of sugar beets. 

 

Growing of sugar beets with a higher sugar content is more profitable. With an increasing of sugar from the base price (at 16% of sugar) - beet prices are rising (Nordzucker). For deliveries of beets with a sugar content of 18% there is already a surcharge of 3-4 euros per tonne of beets that's depending on the regional sugar company (Fig. Strube)

 

 

Economics of growing sugar beets in Ukraine

The purchase price for sugar beets in the season of 2019 in Ukraine is, depending of the region, 22.7-37.4 euros/t (with a standard sugar content of 16%).

Thus, the income from the sale of sugar beets is: with a yield of 5 t/ha - 1135-1870 euros/ha; with a yield of 7 t/ha - 1589-2618 euro/ha.

Average costs for growing sugar beets in Ukraine are: with a yield of 5 t/ha - 850-1100 euros/ha; with a yield of 7 t/ha - 1100-1400 euro/ha.

Thus, gross profit before tax and other payments is usually 135-1418 euros/ha. The average profit is 200-400 euros/ha. Good farmers with high fertility fields have a higher rate.

Barter schemes are common when sugar factories pay to the farmer by sugar for sugar beets delivered. Based on: 50x50, 60x40.

 

When growing sugar beets - it is very important to correctly calculate the investments and fully perform of the agricultural technology of growing, in this case you can get high profit even at an average or low price for sugar. Pictured is a high yield of Strube sugar beet hybrids (photo Strube)

 

Next, we will look at what needs to be done to make good money from growing sugar beets.

 

 

Quality of sugar beet seeds is very important!

Many farmers and agroindustrialists underestimate the contribution of quality seeds to high returns.

In fact, high-quality sugar beet seeds, this is as important a success factor as the good growing technology!

The better the seeds - the higher the returns of investments. Use a trusted and reliable reputable seed supplier such as Strube.

Order seeds in advance, especially if they are new, high-quality hybrids that may be in short supply and the supplier needs time to grow them for you.

 

The photo shows that high-quality Strube sugar beet seeds allow you to get a better development of beets and a higher yield:

on the left - sowing with ordinary seeds (uncalibrated) gives uneven young growth beets plants and subsequently the sugar beet roots develop unevenly and most of the yield is lost;

on the right - sowing with high-quality calibrated seeds from Strube, sugar beet plants and roots develop evenly and excellent. Harvest and profit from growing sugar beets will be maximum when sowing high-quality Strube seeds (photo Strube)

 

 

Strube's sugar beet seeds are the highest international quality standard. The purchase of such seeds pays off with a high yield and profit (photo Strube)

 

 

Good crop rotation for sugar beets - this is an additional profit

Sugar beets should not be placed after broadleaf crops. Broadleaf crops include oilseeds and legumes, as well as vegetables. For example: sunflower, soybeans, peas, beets, flax. We can conditionally say that all crops that are not cereals will be bad predecessors for sugar beets. After poor previous crops, sugar beets often not only reduce their yield, but also increasing the risks of complete rotten and death - either in the field or in the pile after harvesting. This is due to the fact that broadleaf crops have the same diseases as sugar beets, they adversely affect to the soil, and diseases and nematodes accumulated.

The best previous crops in crop rotation for sugar beets in crop rotation are cereals, such as wheat or barley, as well as rye, triticale and sorghum. In most cases, sugar beets are poorly related to such a previous crop as corn, as this is a source of Fusarium and other fungal diseases.

Sugar beets should not be returned to the same field earlier than after 3-4 years, but ideally this should be done after 5-7 years. If it is impossible to do this for any reason, then beets should be rotated with cereal crops, for example, with wheat or barley. And also carry out biofumigation of the soil, in this case, it will be a mandatory agricultural practice.

 

Strube winter wheat is not only a very good in rotation for sugar beets, but also its growing also gives high profits in case of the right approach. Especially effective combining in crop rotation with sugar beets are Strube WeW facultative wheat varieties, which are advantageous to sow after late harvesting of sugar beets. In the photo - the yield potential of this Strube wheat field is more than 11.5 t/ha (according to the expert estimation of Agricultural Consulting), photo Strube

 

Another big advantage of crop rotation is that when rotating of sugar beets with cereal crops, it will be much easier and cheaper to control weeds. For example, in cereal crops, it will be much easier and much cheaper to kill a broadleaf weeds than in sugar beet and vice versa - a grasses in sugar beet.

A large number of weeds in field, just indicates the non-observance of crop rotation and improper weed control in crop rotation.

The weeds most harmful to sugar beets, such as lambs quarters (Chenopodium album), redroot pigweed (Amaránthus retrofléxus) and ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), are very easily destroyed in the field of winter wheat with the help of an ordinary and inexpensive herbicide.

Thus, good crop rotation is a simple and effective technique to reduce costs and increase profits from growing sugar beets. A good previous crops can give a profit increase of 30-50%, compared with a bad previous crop for sugar beet.

 

 

Proper selection of fields for sugar beet

For reduce the cost of growing sugar beets and for get additional profit, present one very simple method that allows made it - you need to carefully select and prepare a field for sowing.

 

Right choosing the field for sugar beets is one of the methods to get extra profit ( photo Strube)

 

Right choosing of the field is very important for growing sugar beets, because not only the costs of growing, but also the final result, i.e. the level of profit, will depends of which field will be used for growing this crop.

Many farmers have noticed that there are fields where sugar beets rotten, even when they return to it after a few years and even after some previous another crops in rotation.

There are fields where sugar beets will not grow, even despite the most modern technologies and pesticides used. It depends from many factors, but more often from their combination.

Usually this is due to a combination of several natural and anthropogenic factors, for example, severe infection with hard-to-eliminate diseases and nematodes, the activity of soil microorganisms, as well as the chemical and biological characteristics of soils and moisture, and in modern conditions, the aftereffect of strong herbicides is added here, as well as other factors.

Therefore, a very simple way to avoid losses is not to sow sugar beets in those fields where it does not produce high yields and where very often, even with agricultural technology, sugar beet crops die. In this case, you can sow such crops that will give high profit in local conditions.

 

 

Saving moisture when growing sugar beets

Profit when growing sugar beets without irrigation is possible only if you take into account the level of moisture supply in a local region when planning the costs of growing and the level of productivity of beet.

For example, if the level of moisture supply does not allow the formation of a sugar beet crop of more than 50 t/ha, then fertilizers and pesticides should not be given for a higher yield, since this will not pay off - and a loss can be made instead of profit.

In modern conditions, the climate is changing and becoming drier. And the yield level of sugar beets begins to limit the lack of moisture, even in those regions where before there was enough moisture. Therefore, investments in drip irrigation will be justified, as this reduces climate risks.

When using drip irrigation, it is possible to effectively provide sugar beet plants with moisture to forming a very high and even record yield, which will be much higher than when growing sugar beets without irrigation, since a lack of moisture will not limit yield.

Plants will have enough moisture to form a higher yield, and in this case other factors will limit the yield, for example, diseases and pests and lack of nutrients.
When using fertigation (giving of fertilizers and growth stimulants into a drip), it is possible to remove the yield limit caused by a lack of nutrients.

A well-designed system of application of plant protection products, well-selected rates of agricultural chemistry, can reduce losses associated with pests and diseases.

 

Frequent droughts and climate changes, dictate new approaches to the growing of sugar beets, even in traditional areas of its cultivation. Everything should be aimed at preserving moisture and maximizing the returns on investments, taking into account arid conditions - from the selection of hybrids that resistant to moisture shortages to planning field works. For example, spraying should not be carried out under conditions of temperature stress - such treatments do not pay off (photo Jens Meier, Strube)

 

It should be borne in mind that fertilizers are not absorbed if they fall into the soil, which contains insufficient moisture. This should be taken into account when spreading fertilizers and another fertilizing.

In conditions of insufficient moisture, field works should be carried out in a shorter time and everything should be done so that the autumn-winter and spring moisture is preserved. Consider the basic methods that allow you to save moisture when growing sugar beets, and accordingly make it possible to earn additional profit since moisture is an additional beet root yield, at the same costs, and therefore that it an additional money:

Sowing in earlier and in a shorter time. For example, a delay in sowing in 1-2 days can lead to a decrease in profits by 10-20%. And these losses can be even greater!

But with a very early sowing of sugar beets, there are risks of reducing yields and damage of plants due to cold soil and the effects of frost action

With late sowing of sugar beets, the risks of stress from the effects of drought and high temperatures increasing significantly

A delay in sowing for 1 day can lead to a decrease in sugar yield by 1% (depending of conditions, this indicator can range from 0.8 to 1.3%). Sugar beet needs 180 days for normal vegetation (average)

A slight time gap between tillage and sowing. For example, there should be no time gap between pre-sowing tillage with a compactor and sowing. It is advisable to sow by means of seeder that combined with a compactor

Inter-row tillage and loosening of the soil between the rows, and the use of modern precision technology for the mechanical weeding, allows you to destroy the soil crust and retain moisture in the soil

Side dressing, or the application of fertilizers in the soil inter-row, allows not only to retain moisture but also delivers fertilizers to the moist soil layer, where they are absorbed by the roots of sugar beet plants effective. This technique gives a high increase in yield, even when used in a dry climate.

The use of Strip-Till technologies, as this helps to preserve moisture in the winter due to the presence of stubble in the field, and also increases the content of humus, which has a water-holding ability. Although this technology is practically not using in Europe, many farmers in the USA begin to adapt it to sugar beet cultivation.

The use of CTF (constant tramline), since the use of this technology allows to reduce soil compaction and improves the water and air conditions of the soil, contributing to the accumulation of moisture in it

Using of deep ripping soil allows you to accumulate more moisture that present in winter time

Use of modern weather services and meteorological data when planning field work. This is especially important when planning treatments with pesticides and fertilizers. This can significantly reduce costs and increase the return and profitability from the application of pesticides and fertilizers. For example, if spaying is carried out in very hot conditions, or in strong winds time, such spaying will never pay off - it will be wasted money only. Also, spraying should not be carried out under conditions of temperature stress - such treatments do not pay off

In the long term, investments such as creating forest belts and modern snow retention allow you to accumulate more moisture and increase productivity by 20-30% inside the field. The reason for this is a significant improvement in the microclimate inside the field and a decrease in the strength of spring and summer dry winds and a higher accumulation of moisture in the winter

 

 

The right choice of sugar beet varieties

At the photo is a Ronald Strube sugar beet variety (N-type). It variety gave a yield of 94.1 t/ha (sugar content 18.52%, sugar yield - 15.2 t/ha), in production at Ukrprominvest-Agro farming, 2018, Ukraine. The yield of 102 t/ha was obtained in the demo fields of the German Agrarian Center in Ukraine (ADFZ), 2018. This variety is one of the most profitable when grown properly. Has resistance to rhizomania and cercosporosis (photo Jens Meier, Strube)

 

 

At the photo - a healthy and free from Cercospora leaf of Ronald sugar beet variety from Strube (N-type). This variety not only has high resistance to cercosporosis, that can significantly reduce the cost for buying and applying fungicides, but it variety also form a record sugar yield per hectare (photo Jens Meier, Strube)

 

 

When choosing sugar beet hybrids, the following should be considered:

 

  • geographical location and local climatic conditions

  • variety type (Z, N, NZ or E types)

  • the best results of sugar beet and sugar yields per 1 ha obtained by market leaders

  • data from our own experiments of testing sugar beet varieties

  • sugar beet varieties tested data by Strube

  • variety yield potential

  • resistance to the diseases that are present in yours fields

  • should be used in production not one, but 3-5 different Strube varieties, in this case stable results will be achieved, since depending on a particular year, one or another varieties will give higher yields

  • You should regularly buy new sugar beet varieties, because the breeding does not stand still, and Strube breeders are constantly creating new, more productive and profitable varieties for farmers and agricultural companies

 

Strube also offers new highly profitable sugar beet varieties for Ukraine: Zeppelin (N), Suvorov (N), Horeb (Z), Mazeppa (Z), Vinnik (N), Bulgakov (N). And new profitable sugar beet varieties for another counrtries (plese see next picture)

 

New sugar beet varieties from Strube. With more than 30 new sugar beets varieties in 13 countries, Strube offers farmers and the industry numerous qualitative varieties, that meet their requirements. Therewith the seed breeding company makes its contribution to an economic sugar production from beets (picture Strube)

 

 

At the photo - Gulliver sugar beet variety from Strube (Z-type). It variety gave a yield of 104.4 t/ha (sugar content 16.37%, sugar yield - 14.3 t/ha), in production of Ukrprominvest-Agro farming, 2018, Ukraine. This variety  provides a stable profit and is resistant to rhizomania (photo Dr. Oleksii Orlov)

 

There is a negative correlation between sugar content and beet yield. Varieties that containing a lot of sugar have a relatively lower yield of beets roots, and hybrids that give a high yield of roots have a relatively lower sugar content. This dependence is embedded in the sugar beet genotype.

The income from each ton of beets increases with increasing sugar content for every one-hundredth of a percent. With a yield of 70 tons of beets per hectare, an increase in sugar content from 17% to 18% gives an additional profit of up to 140 euros per hectare, depending on the conditions that this or that regional sugar factory provides.

With the same yield and increase in sugar content, unit costs for transportation and processing are reduced. Thus, when comparing Z-types and N-types, N-types can have more sugar than Z-types.

Thus, they are ideal for late harvesting and in those cases where the plant is nearby and you do not need to carry sugar beets far. It is also necessary to consider all cost factors. Thus, due to the correct choosing of varieties, you can avoid costs and get the highest possible income from growing sugar beets.

 

At the photo - Veda sugar beet variety from Strube (Z-type). It gave a yield of 94 t/ha (sugar content of 17.24%, sugar yield of 13.9 t/ha), in production at Ukrprominvest-Agro farming, 2018, Ukraine. At Agricultural Company Svitanok farming on an area of ​​3708 ha, it provided a yield of 72.2 t/ha, and on an area of ​​18 ha, it showed a yield of 96.3 t/ha (2018, Ukraine). At Radekhovsky Sugar (Pfeifer & Langen), it gave a yield of 80.41 t/ha (sugar content of 17.49%, sugar yield - 14.06 t/ha), 2018, Sokalsky district, Lviv Region, Ukraine. This variety is one of the most popular, bringing a stable profit when growing on large areas, and is resistant to rhizomania (photo Jens Meier, Strube)

 

At the photo - Pushkin sugar beet variety from Strube (Z-type). It gave a yield of 116.0 t/ha (sugar content of 18.8%, sugar yield of 21.8 t/ha), in industrial irrigated farming (by drip irrigation) of Agro-Delo Company (ED&F Man), Nikolaev Region, Ukraine, 2018. In Agricultural Company Svitanok, on an area of 26 hectares, it provided a yield of 97.3 t/ha (2018, Ukraine). The yield of 126.85 t/ha was obtained in the demo fields of the German Agrarian Center in Ukraine (ADFZ), 2018. This variety provides a stable and high yield and is resistant to rhizomania (photo Jens Meier, Strube)

 

At the photo - Kurchatov (RZ) sugar beet variety from Strube. It gave a yield of 102.3 t/ha on an area of 115 ha, in the farming of Agricultural Company Svitanok, 2018, Ukraine. The yield of 104.63 t/ha was obtained in the demo fields of the German Agrarian Center in Ukraine (ADFZ), 2018. This variety provides a stable and high yield (photo  Dr. Oleksii Orlov)

 

At the photo - Zeppelin sugar beet variety from Strube (Z-type). It gave a yield of 114.0 t/ha (sugar content 18.3%, sugar yield - 20.8 t/ha), in industrial irrigated farming (drip irrigation) in Agro-Delo Company (ED&F Man), Nikolaev region, Ukraine, 2018. This new variety provides a stable and high yield and is resistant to rhizoctonia (photo Dr. Oleksii Orlov)

 

 

At the photo - Vavilov sugar beet variety from Strube (Z-type). It gave a yield of 72.65 t/ha on an area of 3835 ha, and on an area of 150 ha, it showed a yield of 125.8 t/ha! (in the farming of Agricultural Company Svitanok, 2018, Ukraine). This variety provides a stable and very high yield and is resistant to rhizomania and nematode. This is one of the best varieties (photo Jens Meier, Strube))

 

 

The highest and most stable yields, as well as high profitability over the past 5-6 years in Ukraine, are shown next Strube sugar beet varieties:

  • Veda (RR (CR))

  • Vavilov (RR / NT / CR)

  • Vok (RR / CR (NZ))

 

 

Others secrets and competitive advantages for increasing profits from growing sugar beets, reducing costs and improving work efficiency:

 

  • Biofumigation

  • Technological equipment

  • Energy efficiency

  • Weeds control

  • Regular inspection of fields (what exactly should be paid attention at the first)

  • Timeliness of technological operations

  • Timely harvesting

  • Proper storage

  • Using innovative technologies

  • The correct calculation of investments, the application of fertilizers, agricultural chemistry and pesticides

  • Independent Technology Audit

 

All this we will consider in detail in next publications.

 

 

The photo shows a record harvest of sugar beets in Agricultural Company Svitanok. Sugar beet is healthy, root are large, well developed and aligned

 

 

The correct choosing of sugar beet varieties can give an increase in additional profit without a significant increase in costs!!

 

 

Contact Strube for purchase WeW facultative high-yield and profitable sugar beet seeds!

 

 

International contacts of Strube Company

 

Many thanks for the help in preparing the article: Strube GmBH, Dr. Lutz Gerrmann, Jens Meier, Dr. Ivan Shvidinyuk, Sergey Prezer

 

 

Contacts of Strube company in Ukraine:

 

TOV Strube Ukraine GmbH

Dr. Lutz Herrmann

Str. Yuria Shumskogo, 1, Of. 115

2098 Kyiv, Ukraine

Tel. +38 044 536 16 69

Fax. +38 044 536 16 69

l.herrmann@strube.net

http://www.strube.com.ua

 

 

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