Early harvest is getting underway for southern Alberta’s sugar beet growers.

This “mini” harvest is one way producers can ensure the factory has enough inventory to start up.

The goal is to deliver over 180,000 tonnes of sugar beets to receiving stations in Burdett, Taber, Vauxhall, Picture Butte, Enchant, Coaldale, and Tempest this month.

It’s expected to be a good year for producers, with higher than average yields forecast, which is especially good news after 45% of the crop had to be left in the ground last year.

“We ask that people be patient with farmers as they move equipment from field to field and to watch out for trucks hauling sugar beets from the fields to the receiving stations,” says Gary Tokariuk, Alberta Sugar Beet Growers President. “We understand that this can be frustrating. Something to remember is that the contents of that truck that is moving slow will probably be on your dinner plate over the next 6 months.”

Main harvest is set to start on October 1st and with over 30,000 acres of sugar beets to be harvested, officials says it’s going to be a busy fall. Sugar beets are stored outside in piles and delivered to the factory as needed.

With a higher than above average yield expected this year, the role that early harvest will play is very important. Typically, all the beets will be processed by mid-February, but with a crop this size, it could take longer.