Inputs and management practices of sugar beet production, by cost group, 2000 

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Inputs and management practices of sugar beet production, by cost group, 2000



Item Low-cost farm Mid-cost farm High-cost farm
Irrigation (% of beet hectares)      
Previous crop (% of farms)      
Soyabeans   * *
Other crops      
Seed (kg/hectare) 1,63 1,88 1,80
Fertiliser use (% of farms)      
Fertiliser application rate (kg/hectare)      
Nitrogen   116,8  
Phosphorus 66,2 74,1 79,8
Potassium 29,1 52,9  
Chemical use (% of farms)      
Tillage system (% of farms)      
Conventional with mouldboard plow      
Conventional with mouldboard plow      
Reduced tillage      
Mulch tillage      
Soil surface covered (%)      
Custom operations (% of farms)      
Cultivation/planting *    
Fertiliser application      
Chemical application      
Fuel use (litres/hectare)      
Diesel 117,3   234,7
Gasoline 41,6 98,4 151,4
Electricity (kilowatt hours) 134,1    
Labour use (hours/hectare)      
Unpaid labour 8,2 12,8 14,8
Paid labour 6,7 11,4 20,5
Precision technology (% of farms)      
Remote sensing      
VRT fertiliser      
Fertiliser management practices      
Soil nitrogen test      
Soil phosphate test      
Plant tissue test      
Nitrogen applications      
Less than recommended      
More than recommended      
Equal to recommended      
Basis for nitrogen decision      
Routine practice      
Soil/tissue test      
Crop consultant      
Fertiliser dealer      
Extension services     *
Nitrogen/crop prices *    
Factory recommendation      
Pest management practices      
Scouting weeds      
Scouting insects      
Scouting diseases      
Scouting records      
Pre-emergence herbicides      
Routine practice      
Field mapping *    
Dealer recommendation *    
Consultant recommendation   *  
Post-emergence herbicides      
Routine practice      
Field mapping      
Dealer recommendation      
Consultant recommendation      
Reasons for insecticide applications      
Preventive schedule      
Scouting data      
History of problem      
Local information      
Operator determination of infestation      



Land use on sugar beet farms, 2000



Item All ARMS farms
ARMS share (%)  
Sugar beet farms  
Sugar beet acres  
Sugar beet production  
Size (hectare)  
Land tenure (% of operated hectare)  
Crops (% of harvested hectare)  
Sugar beet  
Dry edible beans  


Source: 2000 USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey


Average characteristics of sugar beet farms, 2000


Note: numbers will vary considerably for European farms as many countries discourage similar professionalism and merging of farms compared to the Americans. There are considerably smaller and less profitable farms in EU countries as far as I know.



Item All ARMS farms (Euro)
Farm finances (euro/farm)  
  Farm production value   399 524
Sugar beet production value 153 127
Net farm income 63 829
Assets 1 302 772
Debt 327 300
Farm equity 975 471
Debt-to-asset ratio (percent)  
Income solvency group (% of farms)  
  Favourable (percent of farms)  
Marginal income  
Marginal solvency  
Co-op share (%of farms)  
Operator occupation (%)  
Farming as major occupation  
Operator age (%)  
Less than 50 years  
50-64 years  
65 years or older  
Operator education (%)  
High school or less  
Some college  
Completed college  


Sugar beet production costs and returns, 2000 (Euro)

Item All ARMS farms
Gross return Euro per planted hectare
  Sugar beets total gross return  
Operating costs  
Custom operations  
Fuel, lube, and electricity  
Purchased irrigation water 10,6
Freight and dirt hauling 26,4
Miscellaneous 30,2
Hauling allowance (-) 14,3
Interest on operating capital 19,6
Hired labour  
Total operating costs  
Return over total operating costs  
Ownership and other costs  
Capital recovery (machinery & equipment)  
Taxes and insurance 29,5
General farm overhead  
Opportunity cost of land  
Opportunity cost of unpaid labour  
Opportunity cost of coop share 41,5
Total (economic) costs  
Return over total (economic) costs -44,5
  Tons per planted hectare
  Yield   55,3
Cost of production Euro per ton
  Total operating costs   13,87
Total operating and ownership costs 19,2
Total (economic) costs 28,17
Season-average price 25,89


* = 0.1 to less than 5 percent.


Source: 2000 USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey



Distribution of sugar beet farms by farm typology group, 2000


Small <250 000 USD (low sales) 13%

Small <250 000 USD (high sales) 27%


Small family farms, those with annual sales of $250,000 and under, accounted for 40 percent of all sugar beet farms but contributed only 16 percent of the total sugar beet production.


Large >250 000: 31%

Very Large >250 000: large: 22%


Large family farms (annual sales more than $250,000) accounted for 53 percent of all sugar beet farms and just over three-fourths of the sugar beet production.


Others 7%


Enterprise size is an acreage measure which in this report is one of five categories: farms with fewer than 50 sugar beet acres, 50-149 sugar beet acres, 150-249 sugar beet acres, 250-499 sugar beet acres, and 500 or more sugar beet acres.



Sugar Beet Farming – How ”Sweet” is it?


Few of us know that more than half of US sugar production comes from sugar beets. (Most of the rest comes from sugarcane.) US sugar beet production has grown significantly over the past decade, tied primarily to expanded processing capacity among sugar beet factories. US farmers produced 33 million tons of sugar beets on 640 000 hectares in 2000, versus 28 million tons of sugar beets on 566 000 hectares in 1990. Most sugar beets were processed in 26 factories near production areas to minimize transportation costs and deterioration of sugar content.


US sugar beets are generally grown in areas with cooler climates; however, some sugar beets are grown in warmer climates like the Imperial Valley of California.


US sugar beet producers incurred operating costs (inputs, hired labour, etc.) averaging 13,87 Euro per ton of sugar beets in 2000; and total costs (including depreciation in farm machinery, value of land and operator labour) averaged 28,17 Euro per ton. But costs vary widely among farmers due to differences in yields, input use, irrigation, farm size, and location.


At the 2000 average market price of 25,83 Euro per ton of sugar beets, 88 percent of US sugar beet producers were able to cover their operating costs and 35 percent were able to cover their total (economic) costs. In 2000, producers had the opportunity to participate in the payment-in-kind (PIK) diversion program to destroy sugar beets on a specified number of hectares in return for a like amount of government-owned sugar. With the 2000 diversion program providing nearly three-quarters of producers an average of 82 Euro worth of sugar per planted hectare, 89 percent of producers were able to cover their operating costs and 43 percent were able to cover their total (economic) costs of sugar beet production.



Other factors you should be aware of


It is illegal for farmers to distribute fertilisers in their fields after a certain date in some countries. F example in Norway, it is illegal to distribute fertilisers after October 1st.


A farmer needs at least one week without (heavy) rain before he is able to use distribute the fertiliser, so occasionally; he will have to ask the government for a dispensation from the regulation if it has rained constantly for a long period prior to the deadline. If he distributes the fertiliser during heavy rainfall, the result will be that the fertiliser is washed away with the water to the nearby rivers.


Prices of natural gas, which is used to produce ammonia - the main input in all nitrogen fertilisers, is the primary factor in the pricing of nitrogen based fertiliser. Between June 2007 and June 2008, natural gas prices increased more than 65 percent. As a result, the cost to produce nitrogen fertiliser increased. However, the price dropped sharply in 2009 and continue to drop in 2010.


In 2007, 58 million tons of fertilisers were shipped to US agricultural producers by ocean freight, railroads, trucks, barges, and pipelines.




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