According to the Sugarbeet Research & Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota, it’s estimated that respiration causes about 70 percent of sugar loss during storage, and decay accounts for 10 percent. The remaining 20 percent of sucrose losses are the result of fermentation when oxygen content is low because of poor ventilation, freezing and thawing cycles and root desiccation.
How can growers maintain sugarbeet health, tonnage and sugar quality when sugarbeets are in piles after harvest? Syngenta recommends the following to help prevent post-harvest yield loss in the pile:
- Utilize proper defoliation. Avoid overly aggressive crown removal. This results in up to three times more decay and increases respiration loss.
- Improve ventilation by keeping piles as free as possible of dirt, weeds, rocks, leaves and other debris.
- Keep piles at a cool temperature (below 50° F) to avoid decay and sugar degradation.
- Use forced-air ventilation and freeze piles over the winter to help control storage losses due to respiration.
- Use clean equipment. Maintain harvest equipment – from defoliators and lifters to trucks and conveyors.
- Prepare slabs properly.
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