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Michigan Sugar Finishes Campaign as Growers Get Planters Rolling

Loading sugarbeets. Photo: Michigan Sugar

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Last week, Michigan Sugar wrapped up its 2020-2021 slicing campaign with some pretty sweet results.

According to Jim Ruhlman, vice president of Michigan Sugar, there were two main highlights of the campaign.

“We had absolutely phenomenal storage this year—the conditions were almost perfect,” he says. “We had a climate where our piles really never froze hard. It’s best when it’s a refrigerator and not a deep freeze because when you get that deep freeze and the thaw during late February or March, our beets start to deteriorate.”

The other highlight was the sugar content.

“During harvest, we saw sugar content in our sugarbeets that were extremely high, and we had 19 to 20 percent sugars during our permanent piling period which is late October through November 15,” says Ruhlman. “When you have sugar content in your beets that high, it means your impurities in the beets are lower, and the processing of that raw material is much easier. As a result, a very favorable payment to our grower-shareholders.”

Ruhlman says the same week the campaign ended, producers were back planting this year’s crop. Preparation for planting in late-March happened over the winter.

“You go from one season to the next,” he says. “While we’re processing beets, we’re preparing for beets. All winter long, our agronomy group is meeting with growers, talking about seed recommendations—one of the newer things we have taken on over the last couple years is prescription planting recommendations.”

The ground could use a little more moisture in some areas, but Ruhlman says he’s glad the new season is underway.

“I’m glad the new season is underway,” he adds. “Our growers are in good spirits—their passion for sugarbeets and their agronomic practices are second to none.”

Ruhlman expects beet growers will plant roughly 160,00 acres this year.