Crystal Sugarbeet Seed, ACH SEEDS Inc.
Good Things Come From Common Ground

Commercial Seed Production

At ACH Seeds, Casper Lehner, Seed Production Manager and his team oversees the commercial seed production process. Their work takes place in Willamette Valley, Oregon, where dry harvest conditions, low disease pressure and mild winters create optimal conditions to produce seed for sugarbeet growers across North America.

  • March 25th
  • May 14th
  • June 12th
  • June 18th
  • August 20th
  • August 24th
  • August 25th
Freshly planted sugar beet stecklings
35 days after stecklings are planted.
Seed production fields either are directly sown in August and September or planted from stecklings (young sugarbeet plants) that are transplanted in February. In both cases, fields are planted with six rows of female plants and two rows of pollinators (male plants). The photo shows a field planted with stecklings 35 days after planting. The different colored rows clearly identify the pollinators from the female plants.
undersireable sugarbeet plants
Fields checked for undersireable plants.
Casper and his crew start evaluating fields during spring for undesirable plants and pull out any off types in order to remove them from seed production. This process requires many hours of manual work to ensure only the highest quality plants remain in production fields.
mature sugarbeet plants
Sugarbeet plants begin to mature.
Between May and June, the sugarbeet plants produce a seed stalk called “bolt” that allows the plants to flower later in the season. The male and female plants start to show a clear difference in color differentiating the lighter green male pollinators from the darker green female plants.
Full grown sugarbeet plants
Full grown sugarbeet plants.
By mid June, the flowers of the pollinators, as well as the female plants start to open as the sugarbeet plants reach their full height of five to eight feet.
Sugar beet harvest
Plants are ready for harvest.
After pollination, Casper’s team is in charge of destroying the pollinator plants to prepare the fields for a late July to early August harvest. Once the seed has reached its highest quality level, the female plants are cut in a process called “swathing” and are left in the field to dry.
dried sugar beet stalks
Dried stalks ready for combining.
The dried seed stalks turn golden brown once they are ready for combining. A combine with a pickup head aids to separate the seeds from the stalks, which is a very slow process, but necessary in order to avoid seed shattering of the bulky plants.
empty sugar beet field
Field is prepared for another cycle.
Loading the harvested seed into large wooden containers is the final step for Casper and his team of seed growers. Identification labels are applied to these boxes before they hand over the seed to the processing team that will clean the harvested seed. Processing removes sticks and other materials and prepares the seed for nationwide distribution to ACH Seeds sugarbeet growers.

The empty fields are worked and prepared for another seed growing cycle, as sugarbeet seed can be produced in the same field for several years.