This week we turn the page back 54 years to the summer 1967 edition of The Sugarbeet Grower magazine, featuring that issue's cover story on Spreckels Sugar Company's new facility in Chandler, Ariz. The facility was later demolished in the late 1980s.
Spreckels Sugar Company’s newest facility at Chandler, Ariz., is now midway in its first "campaign,” the sugar industry’s jargon for the sugar-making season.
Beginning in May the plant began converting 4,250 tons of beets per day into about 1 million pounds of gleaming white sugar.
Ground for the new facility was broken in November 1964, a few months after Arizona won a federal allotment for planting 20,000 acres of sugarbeets.
On a 640-acre site five miles south of Chandler, Spreckels built one of the nation’s most modern sugar manufacturing facilities. It is the fifth factory for the 70-year-old firm; the other four are in California.
Sugar factories are rated by their 'slicing campaign,’ the amount of beets it takes to keep the sophisticated equipment busy around the clock. At Chandler, the capacity is 4,250 tons per day, the harvest from roughly 200 acres.
As the raw material undergoes the six to eight-hour process of conversion into sugar, technicians in a master control room will monitor all of the important steps electronically. The monitoring equipment keeps track of miles of pipes, hundreds of circuits and over 200 pumps of numerous other devices.
During the campaign, electricity will come from the plant’s own generators. They are capable of producing enough power to take care of nearby cities of Chandler, Tempe and Mesa.
Spreckels has its own 16,000-foot railroad system, terminating near a storage complex that is large enough to hold about two-thirds of a season’s 100-million-pound production. Six concrete silos rise 116 feet above the Valley floor.
The sugar may be shipped out in bulk or liquid form, or packaged in the Spreckels plant for use by households.
Another "landmark” of the Spreckels complex is a huge metal warehouse for storing molasses dried beet pulp, a by-product of the sugar manufacturing process. The pulp is a highly regarded feed for livestock, and it will be sold to the Valley feedlots.
Other elements of the complex include a $500,000 water conservation system, which, among other things, utilizes a large system of lagoons for cleaning wastewater and returning it to use.
As all of these elements were being completed and connected, some 200 farmers in Maricopa and Pinal counties were planting their first crop of sugarbeets.
A few months later growers in higher regions of Arizona began planting beets. These beets, from such areas as Safford and Willcox, will provide a second “campaign” each fall.
During the coming months, as trucks deliver the beets to the factory on a carefully controlled schedule, each load will be sampled and analyzed to determine the worth of each farmer’s beets. Part of his payment is dependent on the percentage of sugar in his beets. Another chemical laboratory will maintain constant quality control over the sugar from the beets.
During the “campaign,” the plant will employ about 250 persons. Many members of the workforce will be employed year-around, and the plant’s annual payrollis estimated at $1.5 million.