British Sugar says quality is improving as East Anglia’s beet campaign reaches half-way

Sugar beet harvest, north Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

Sugar beet harvest, north Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2016

Sugar beet growers are more than half-way through this season’s campaign – with an improving crop making its way to East Anglia’s sugar factories.

The crop is a staple of the region’s agricultural output, with Norfolk and Suffolk responsible for growing about half of the UK’s sugar beet, which is processed at British Sugar’s four plants.

Last season, almost a million tonnes of sugar was produced from beet harvested in eastern England.

This year, after a wet start to the growing season, the factories at Cantley, near Acle, Wissington, near King’s Lynn, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and Newark in Nottinghamshire opened later than usual to give the best opportunity for the beet to grow and maximise yields.

But after good harvesting conditions in recent weeks, Colm McKay, agriculture director at British Sugar, said the prospects are improving.

“The UK campaign started in early October and is making steady progress with excellent harvesting conditions,” he said. “We estimate more than 55pc of the crop has been harvested to date and sugar contents continue to rise since the start of the campaign.

“The final production volume from this season’s crop will be dependent on weather conditions for the remainder of the campaign.”

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