In states like Montana, sugar is more than just a sweetener you put in your favorite recipes, it’s a huge economic driver for the state’s number one industry - agriculture.
This year, Montana sugar growers are expected to harvest around 42,400 acres of sugarbeets statewide.
That’s down slightly from last year’s 45,600 but still expected to produce more than 1.3 million tons of sugar.
Russell Steinbeisser is a sugar grower along the Lower Yellowstone Valley near Sidney.
Steinbesser said, “The last root samples that Sidney Sugars came out with show an estimated crop of nearly 32 tons per acre, which is pretty close to last year’s record crop of a little over 33 tons.”
As with other commodities grown in Montana, research and technology is helping sugar growers plow thru challenges like weeds which can impact overall yield and sugar content.
Steinbeisser also has a message for consumers: “Sugar is a very healthy product. If you eat too much of anything, it’s not good for you.”
The Western Sugar Cooperative harvest is also in full swing in Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming.
It’s an important reminder for drivers to watch out for slow moving machinery and trucks on our region's road.
From the American Sugarbeet Growers Association website:
Beets are planted in late March/early April and harvested in late September and October. When fully grown, a sugarbeet is about a foot long, weighs two-to-five pounds, and is about 18% sucrose. They are processed at 23 factories that are located near the fields, because beets are a perishable vegetable. Factories generally operate around the clock, seven days a week, from October through April. Beet sugar represents about 54% of domestically-produced sugar.