Farmers race to harvest last 10pc of sugar beet crop before factories close
PUBLISHED: 15:16 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:16 12 March 2020
Archant Norfolk © 2015
Sugar factories are being slowed down to give farmers more time to deliver the final 10pc of East Anglia’s sugar beet at the end of a wet and challenging season.
The prolonged rain and soggy soil conditions during the winter have bogged down farmers' efforts to harvest the region's staple beet crop.
But British Sugar says 90pc of the crop has now been delivered, thanks to the 'continued huge efforts and co-operation' of growers, contractors and hauliers.
The company's factories at Cantley, near Acle, and Bury St Edmunds have now closed for deliveries after completing their 2019/20 campaigns.
But the firm says Norfolk beet which was not delivered to Cantley in time can still be delivered to the west Norfolk factory at Wissington, which expects to close its weighbridges for sugar beet intake on March 19 if all beet has been lifted and delivered.
After March 16, British Sugar says decisions will be taken 'on a day-by-day basis' on whether Wissington should remain open, 'based on the availability of sufficient beet supply'.
The company's fourth factory, in Newark, Nottinghamshire, remains open for contracted deliveries, and is expected to close on April 4 - again dependent on remaining beet being lifted. As with Wissington, British Sugar says Newark will open on a daily basis subject to the availability of sufficient beet supply from March 30.
A spokesman for British Sugar said: 'We recognise that this campaign has seen challenging conditions and that wet weather has affected lifting.
'To help our growers and hauliers, we have slowed the slice rate at Wissington and Newark to provide as much time as possible for beet to be lifted and delivered. Prior to its closing, we also slowed slicing at Cantley, and any beet which could not be delivered in time to Cantley can be accepted at Wissington. Growers should speak to their British Sugar contract manager to make arrangements for this, so that it can be allocated accordingly.
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'We thank growers for their continued persistence, and urge them to continue to take every opportunity to lift beet and deliver it to their contracted factory as soon as possible. We would also remind growers and hauliers to keep in contact with their British Sugar contract manager with any questions or concerns about harvesting, beet supply or delivery, so that we can do all we can to help.'
The company says any changes to factory closure dates will be communicated to growers and hauliers.