Big Sugar Beet Crop Could Lead to Slow Processing in Michigan

03:50PM Oct 27, 2014
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Some beet growers could be asked by a Michigan-based sugar company to limit harvesting this year because a strong crop could cause processing delays next spring.

This year's sugar beet crop could top 4.8 million tons thanks to a lot of rainfall, Michigan Sugar Co. Vice President of Agriculture Paul Pfenninger told

The beets are stored in piles. The more beets the company receives the later into spring it takes to process them.

"We can physically receive the crop, but to process it in a timely manner is where our concerns lie," said Pfenninger. "The later the season goes, obviously, the warmer the temperatures. They, physically, will deteriorate to a point beyond processing."

Any beets harvested over 4.8 million tons would be at risk, he added.

Michigan Sugar's offices are in Bay City, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit. The grower-owned cooperative has been producing sugar for more than 108 years.

Michigan Sugar has about 900 growers producing an acre or more of beets. They could learn by Friday how many acres they'll be asked not to harvest.

The cooperative harvested more than 4 million tons last year and about 4.7 million tons in 2012. The company annually produces more than a billion pounds of sugar.

Growers still would receive some compensation for acres they don't harvest this year, Pfenninger said.

As of Thursday, about 38 percent of this year's beet crop had been harvested.

"What we would do next year is we would reduce the amount of acres to plant," said Pfenninger. "That's how we would eliminate the extra tonnage if we think it's going to be better than average."