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Unseasonably warm temperatures push back Michigan Sugar Co. harvest

As of Oct. 25, 2022, less than one-fourth — 22% — of the company’s crop was harvested, said Elizabeth Taylor, the company's agricultural communications and relations manager.

Zwerk Farms
Zwerk Farms, Vassar, Michigan, harvests sugarbeets for Michigan Sugar Co., in late October.
Contrbuted / Michigan Sugar Co.
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Warm October temperatures delayed Michigan Sugar Co.’s 2022 harvest.

As of Oct. 25, less than one-fourth — 22% — of the company’s crop was harvested, said Elizabeth Taylor, the company's agricultural communications and relations manager.

Farmers who grow sugarbeets for Michigan Sugar, based in Bay City, typically can finish the majority of their harvests in 18 to 24 days, she said.

“It’s just weather dependent. We like to have as many of the beets we can before the second week in November,” Taylor said on Oct. 25, 2022.

The company was estimating 2022 average yields of 29- to 30-tons per acre. That’s slightly lower than average, the result of dry conditions during the growing season.

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Farmers will harvest an estimated 150,000 acres of sugarbeets, slightly lower than normal. Farmers who grow sugarbeets for Michigan Sugar typically plant about 160,000 acres but reduced that number in 2022 because of a variety of reasons, including high crop prices for other commodities, Taylor said.

The company estimated that the 2022 crop’s sugar content would be slightly higher than 18%, which is an improvement over last year when warm, wet conditions during October greatly increased the size of the crop but resulted in reduced sugar content.

This year, Michigan Sugar’s Croswell factory broke several processing records during October. On Oct. 18, the Croswell factory produced 1.8 million pounds of sugar. The factory earlier this harvest season packed a record 1.52 million pounds of sugar, about 45,000 tons more than the previous record of 1.48 million pounds set in 2019.

The record October production is a result of a $13 million project, which was completed over the course of a few years.

The project, which was completed in 2021, included installation of a sugarbeet, receiving, washing and chip recovery system, with a goal of increasing slicing from 4,000 tons per day to 6,000 tons per day. A hoop house to store sugarbeets also was built during the project. During the past year and a half the company held training sessions for its employees on using the equipment.

Related Topics: SUGARBEETSAGRICULTURE
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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