Bloomberg News

Russia May Lose 6.7 Million Tons of Sugar Beets Because of Frost

November 16, 2011

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Russia may lose 6.7 million metric tons of sugar beets after low temperatures froze soil and complicated harvesting this month, the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies said.

Farmers failed to harvest the root from about 170,000 hectares (420,079 acres), according to Ikar, as the Moscow-based institute is known. Frozen soil is too hard for farm machinery to pick up beets, and those left rooted will probably be lost, Evgeny Ivanov, a sugar analyst at Ikar, said by phone today. He calculated the potential crop loss by multiplying the average yield by the unharvested area.

“Not all sugar beets that have been harvested will be processed,” Ivanov said. “Losses will be there too.”

The frost will have no effect on beets that have been harvested and left in field storage, which can be refined while frozen, according to the analyst. Russian farmers harvested 43.9 million tons of beets from 1.12 million hectares of fields as of yesterday, he said.

Temperatures fell as low as minus 13 degrees Celsius (8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of the Northern Caucasus and Southern federal districts on Nov. 7-8, according to the Federal Hydrometeorological Center. Those were abnormal levels, it said on its website last week.

About 55 percent of beet fields were harvested in the Northern Caucasus district and about 80 percent in the Southern district as of Nov. 11, said Anna Strashnaya, head of the agricultural-forecasts department at the center.

Frost Duration

The Northern Caucasus district’s crop made up about 4 percent of this year’s national beet harvest, and the Southern district contributed about 20 percent, Strashnaya said. Crop losses in southern Russia may be insignificant if frosts are of short duration, she told Bloomberg by phone from Moscow.

“If frosts don’t last for a very long period, there will not be anything bad,” Strashnaya said. “It will be possible to harvest beets after snow melts. Soil is frozen to a depth of 5 centimeters (2 inches) to 7 centimeters, but powerful combines are capable to harvest at this condition.”

Beets in field storage may be at risk of decay and loss if temperatures exceed 5 degrees Celsius for long enough, Ikar’s Ivanov said. Strashnaya predicted another two to three days of frost in southern Russia, with temperatures reaching 3 to 6 degrees Celsius by day afterward and falling below zero at night.

“These are considered low temperatures, though, and beets will not start decomposing at that,” Strashnaya said. “There will be no threat to sugar-beet crops during the next seven days.”

--Editors: Dan Weeks, John Deane.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marina Sysoyeva in Moscow at msysoyeva@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net


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