October 13, 2017 7:40 pm

Alberta sugar beet farmers expect a sweet 2017 season

WATCH: The harvest of sugar beets in southern Alberta got off to a late start in 2017, but it's still estimated that more than 780,000 tonnes of beets will be processed in Taber this season. Joe Scarpelli has more.

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The harvest of sugar beets is underway, despite a late start due to unfavourable weather conditions.

The Alberta Sugar Beet Growers (ASBG) estimates more than 780,000 tonnes of sugar beets will be harvested from across southern Alberta over the next four to six weeks and delivered to Taber for processing and refinement.

The Roger’s plant in Taber is the only place in Canada producing domestic sugar.

“Initial results on the quality are really good,” ASBG president Arnie Bergen-Henengouwen said.

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READ MORE: Drought stress setting in on southern Alberta crops

But not without a scare. Bergen-Henengouwen said the recent snowy and wet weather pushed harvest back by up to 10 days.

The dry conditions across southern Alberta during the summer months also created struggles.

“Many of our growers experienced less than two inches of total rainfall through the whole growing season,” he said. “The crop typically uses 16 inches of precipitation and that shortfall all had to be made up by irrigation.”

Now Bergen-Henengouwen and the southern Alberta beet farmers are asking Mother Nature for just a little bit more of that dry weather.

“We need three good weeks without any more moisture and relatively moderate temperatures.”

If everything goes according to plan, ASBG says almost 100,000 tonnes of refined sugar will be processed by mid-February.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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