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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 14 2012

American Crystal: Beets yield record sugar content

MOORHEAD – It’s been a sweet harvest for sugar beet growers up and down the Red River Valley.

American Crystal Sugar and Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative report that beets processed so far are producing 19.1 percent sugar content.

That’s the highest sugar content ever recorded by American Crystal, spokesman Jeff Schweitzer said Wednesday.

The typical sugar content is 17.5 to 18 percent, he said.

“We’re very pleased,” Schweitzer said. “The results are very good for American Crystal.”

Schweitzer said 422,000 acres of beets have been harvested, but 12,000 more acres in the Drayton, N.D., district, must still be lifted.

“We’re very pleased with the yield and quality of the crop,” which is averaging 27 tons per acre, he said.

Wahpeton, N.D.,-based Minn-Dak has harvested more than 3 million tons of beets from 114,513 acres, or about 26.7 tons per acre, said communications manager Chris DeVries.

“Overall, it was a good crop,” DeVries said in an email.

Schweitzer said the yield per ton is also one of the highest recorded by Crystal Sugar.

Crystal is forecasting an average gross payment of about $65 a ton to its members, Schweitzer said.

Two years ago, Crystal paid $73 a ton, he said. The 2011 crop average was $58.67 per ton, he said.

The forecasted payment per ton to Minn-Dak members was not immediately available.

Schweitzer said the piled beets appear to be in good condition for long-term storage.

He said processing will be continuous through mid- to late May.

“Steady as it goes right now,” Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer said it has been a good growing season, despite some hot, dry conditions. Ninety-five percent of the crop was planted before May 1, giving it time to establish.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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