Michigan Sugar Ag Vice President Paul Pfenninger Reflects Upon 38 Years in the Beet Industry
Come January 1, the retirement bell rings for one of the most well known individuals in the Michigan sugarbeet industry. Paul Pfenninger, vice president of agriculture for Michigan Sugar Company, is stepping aside after a 38-year immersion in the world of sugarbeets.
“Paul has played a large part in the success of Michigan Sugar Company, and he will be missed,” affirms Rick Gerstenberger, chairman of the cooperative’s board of directors. “His dedication and hard work have helped us set several production records throughout his career. Paul faced a lot of challenges during his tenure as our ag VP, including Roundup Ready® seed genetics approval and compliance, changing seed variety standards, adapting to self-propelled harvesting and many other new technologies. Pile storage management may have been his biggest challenge, and he did an excellent job.”
Michigan Sugar’s Sebewaing Hoop Building
Unlike the huge sugarbeet storage sheds dotting the Red River Valley, it’s not designed to hold frozen beets into spring, thereby extending the processing campaign. And unlike the ones at Amalgamated Sugar Company’s Paul, Idaho, location, it’s not even meant to cool and hold them down below ambient temperatures. But the new hoop building constructed this fall at Michigan Sugar Company’s Sebewaing factory location does have a very important mission: to reduce root deterioration and help provide good-quality beets for the factory right up to the end of the slicing campaign.
The Sebewaing hoop building, 190 feet wide and just under 600 feet in length, was filled this fall with about 45,000 tons of beets. It is an open-ended facility, with a roof apex some 80 feet above ground level. Ventilation fans outside its 10-foot-high concrete side walls pump air into the 24-foot-high beet pile.
A Brief History of Its Origin & Importance
By Robert Harveson*