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Italy Sugar Beet Yields Fall on Drought, Confagricoltura Reports

Sugar beet yields in Italy are suffering from prolonged drought, with production sliding 50 percent in some areas in the north where the harvest is starting, farm-industry organization Confagricoltura reported.

Damage from a water shortage is affecting large areas of Padua, Rovigo, Ferrara and Bologna provinces, with beet yields falling to 25 to 30 metric tons per hectare (2.47 acres), compared with an average 60 to 65 tons where irrigation was possible, the Rome-based agriculture group wrote in an e-mailed statement today.

Italian farmers planted sugar beets on 52,000 hectares this year, 8,000 hectares more than in 2011, and if the lack of rain in the north continues in August the effect on beet revenue will be “heavy,” Confagricoltura said. Italy produced 506,523 tons of beet sugar last year, European Union data show, about 3 percent of the bloc’s total output of the sweetener.

“The reduction of tonnage per hectare, while partly compensated by increased sugar content in the beets, will increase the impact of growing costs on company balance sheets,” Confagricoltura said.

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