Production from fields in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Lithuania totalled 1,069,000 tonnes for the most recent growing season, nearly 100,000 tonnes (t) more than the 973,000t set aside for Danisco under the EU quota system. According to Danisco's executive vice president Thomas Olsen, the bumper crop was due to "favourable weather conditions" which gave the group "the best possible start to the growing season and contributed to a record-high sugar yield in several of our production countries." But while he welcomed the performance, he stressed that it could have been better still if not for poor growing conditions during the summer and autumn which led to significant differences in yields from one country to another. Denmark accounted for the largest share of Danisco's sugar production at 380,000t, up from 375,000t a year earlier but below the quota of 391,000t. Yield in Denmark was up to 10.2t per hectare from 9.5t/ha a year earlier. Sweden produced 354,000t of sugar, up from 314,000 in 2006/07 and well beyond the 308,000t quota. Yields in Sweden were 9.3t/ha, compared to 7.7t/ha in the previous season. In Finland, production of 101,000t was down from 130,000t a year earlier, but still ahead of quota (87,000) as yields improved from 6.2t/ha to 7.7t/ha. German production rose from 114,000t to 136,000t for a quota of 115,000, with yields at 9.5t/ha, up from 8.5t/ha a year earlier. Meanwhile, in Lithuania, the quota of 71,000t was topped significantly with production rising from 77,000t to 98,000t thanks to a sharp increase in yield from 6.5t/ha to 8.9t/ha. Olsen said that the company was particularly pleased to see its investments paying off. "The higher yield levels overall reflect the extensive efficiency improvements made within beet growing in our region in the past few years." As a consequence, the average yield level for the 20 per cent of growers generating the highest yields is now around 11-12 tonnes of sugar per hectare in most of our production countries." "Beet growing is now concentrated with farmers who focus strongly on this crop to the effect that sugar beet has become a key, stable crop in Northern Europe. This puts the sugar industry in a strong position going forward." "We are very pleased that following the restructuring measures launched in response to the EU sugar reform, our production is well on track," he added. EU reforms have already led to a sharp reduction in production quotas, and smaller producers are being encouraged to leave the market with offers of compensation. Just last month Danisco's Finnish subsidiary complained that too many of its local suppliers had left the market, putting the entire operation at risk. Nonetheless, Sucros Oy has decided to maintain sugar production at its Säkylä sugar factory following commitments from local beet farmers to maintain production. "This means that we can also in the future offer our customers and Finnish consumers sugar farmed and produced in Finland," the company said. Some 1,073 growers will continue to supply the plant from around 14,400ha of land.