The Michigan Ag Today Sugarbeet Harvest Report is sponsored by Betaseed: where research breeds confidence.
Early sugarbeet harvest has been underway in Michigan for a month now. With the earliest start in company history, Jim Ruhlman, executive vice president of Michigan Sugar, said things are really going quite well.
“The rainfall we received in August has been a blessing for sure,” he said. “Our crop looks fantastic, factories are running—we’re in a good place. Our crop will come in around 29.5 to 30 tons per acre overall, which is a very good crop for us.”
By comparison, last years crop yielded a bit more than 28 tons an acre. Michigan Sugar was expecting sugars to be low since they started harvest in August. Ruhlman said this increase is welcome news.
“Growers took great care of the crop, and they’re being rewarded for it, but we also got a break from Mother Nature around early August,” he said.
While things are going as smoothly as they can in the fields and in the factories, Ruhlman said the biggest challenge for Michigan Sugar is keeping employees safe from COVID.
“Management teams have done a phenomenal job with it, and our employees have really stepped up,” he said. “As an essential company or employer, we never stopped making or packaging sugar. Our employees have been unbelievably good stepping up to the plate.”
Despite a pandemic, thousands of acres of replant in the spring, and dry conditions this summer, Ruhlman is optimistic for the 2020 crop.
“The last five years have been tough in the beet business,” said Ruhlman. “We’ve not had great weather, we’ve had some disease issues, we’ve had some market issues. Last year was a pretty good year for our growers, and the payment on this crop is going to be good as well.”