American Crystal Experimenting With Air Bubbles to Protect Beets from Vagaries of Weather — “Two 40-foot high, air-supported polyester tubes have been set up just east of the sugarbeet piles at American Crystal Sugar’s [Moorhead, Minn.] processing plant to see if beets can be protected from wind, rain and changes in temperature by the covering.
“ ‘It’s an experiment to see if such coverings are economically feasible, whether they’ll do the job,’ said Stewart Bass, vice president of Crystal’s agriculture division.
“Bass says the experimental project involves three beet piles of about 7,000 tons each at the Moorhead plant. The first pile has a double-insulated, white tent made from woven polyester. A second pile looks the same from out- side, but has only one layer. A third pile is an open-air check pile, or control to the experiment.
“Computer-controlled electronic thermometers within the structures will help determine how well each tent does its
work. The hope, said Bass, is that the new tents will prevent loss of sugarbeets from the great piles that must stay frozen, sometimes until March and April. ‘The beets are OK until they start thawing. The beets inside will remain frozen, but we get deterioration on the outside beets,’ Bass said, ‘especially when there’s rain.’ ”
Growers Urged to Select Land for Sugarbeets With Extreme Care — “Farmers who intend to plant sugarbeets next spring must select their acreage care- fully, according to an extension specialist.
“Disease, erosion, rotations, as well as the Payment-in-Kind program, are all potential problems the producer may face when determining where to plant next year’s beets, Allan Cattanach, sugarbeet specialist for NDSU and the University of Minnesota, said in a news release.
“Cattanach says idled PIK acres may have too much nitrogen for producing quality sugarbeets. On fallow fields, excessive deep nitrogen may also accumulate, he said.
“An NDSU study this fall of fields to be planted to sugarbeets next year shows many with excessive nitrogen available. Of all fallow fields sampled, 72 percent have more than 100 pounds and 56 percent have more than 120 pounds of residual nitrogen per acre. However, recrop fields to be planted to sugarbeets next year showed only 13 percent with more than 100 pounds of residual nitrate.
“For all Red River Valley summer fallow fields sam- pled, regardless of the crop to be planted next year, 46 per- cent had more than 120 pounds per acre of residual nitrate available.
“Excessively wet PIK acres in the mid-Red River Valley could delay spring planting, and late planting usually means poor quality beets. Erosion on PIK acres is a potentially serious problem if 1984 proves to be an open winter.”
Work by Senator (Farmer) Mark Andrews Pays Off for Sugarbeet Research Building — “Trust a farmer to realize the importance of ‘seed money.’
“The farmer in this case is Sen. Mark Andrews (R-ND), whose efforts have resulted in a Congressional resolution and Presidential signature making $850,000 available for preliminary work on a proposed United States Depart- ment of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) building on the North Dakota State University campus. . . .
“The new building will provide an opportunity to
house scientists conducting sunflower and sugarbeet research including biotechnology in one building. It will also combine two electron microscope laboratories . . . .
“ARS scientists and NDSU researchers have devoted considerable effort to sunflower and sugarbeet research over the years. The 1983 North Dakota legislative has funded six new technical positions to work in the area of basic and applied biotechnology research efforts. In addition, ARS has plans to expanded tis- sue culture techniques in basic genetic work with the sunflower and sugarbeet programs.”
Fructose Transforms U.S. Sweetener Market / By Robert Barry and Fred Gray, USDA Economic Re- search Service — “The sweetener market has been radically trans-
formed by the introduction of a continuous enzymatic process for mass production of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) a decade ago. From a clearly commanding position in the sweetener market, sugar has moved to a shared importance with HFCS.
“Now, just short of full maturation of HFCS within the sweetener complex, a new presence is providing dramatic possibilities. Aspartame (APM), a low-caloric sweetener nearly 200 times as sweet as sucrose, was approved for dry products use in 1981. Its biggest potential, however, opened up just four months ago when the Food and Drug Administration approved APM use in carbonated soft drinks. Since then, all major soft drink companies have adopted APM in varying degrees, and all will have at least one reformulated diet drink using APM by year end.
“We are moving toward a new era of multiple sweet- ener use. More sweeteners will be used in combination for particular products to meet smaller, more specific markets. Note, for instance, the market segmentation in soft drinks this past year — from full-caloric to no-cal, lo-cal, caffeine- free, and salt-free products!
“Sugar, however, continues to be important. Sugar has a range of virtues for industrial use, apart from simple sweetening power. This year, sugar’s share of caloric (let us also mean nutritive) sweeteners in the U.S. market is estimated at 58 percent; its share of all sweeteners, includ- ing no-cal and lo-cal, 53 percent.”