Editor’s Note: One of our regular offerings in The Sugarbeet Grower is the “30 Years Ago” page, featuring highlights from the issue that was published 30 years prior to the current issue of this magazine.
As the schedule in 1985 did not include a November or December issue, we opted to reach back even further into our archives this month — back a half century, in fact, to 1965. The short article excerpts on this page come from The Sugarbeet Grower’s Winter 1965 issue.
Belle Fourche Reacts to Closing — “Belle Fourche, South Dakota, is a town of about 4,400 located on the northern edge of one of the nation’s top attractions: the Black Hills. It is also a town that has lost a beet sugar refinery. By January 1, 1966, the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company will close their doors for the last time and leave the city, taking with them an annual payroll of between half and three quarters of a million dollars and an outlet for local farm products.
“ ‘About all we can say is that we’re closing here with a feeling of strong regret,’ says district manager Richard Beigler. ‘Economic conditions have forced us to close. We weren’t getting enough volume to justify staying open.’
“The U-I Sugar Company cites poor local irrigation as a prime reason for decreased volume. Several years ago they had extended their operations south of the Black Hills with a beet station located in the Hot Springs and Oral area. In 1961 the Oral reservoir went dry and U-I withdrew from the station. It had been the first time the reservoir ever dried up, however, and it refilled again that winter. U-I did not return.
“The sugar company made another attempt to boost volume by extending contracts to central and eastern South Dakota. This, too, failed to prove successful because of low sugar content, freight costs, and disease problems. Once again, U-I was forced to reconsider, unable to increase the volume that had dropped steadily since before the 1940’s. As a result, the processing plant closed in December, just short of being a 40-year-old institution. . . .
“The Utah-Idaho company made a noteable (sic) effort to make their exodus as gentle as possible. Most of the land the company owned was sold back to farmers for as much as $25 an acre below the land value. Eighty percent of the company employees have been relocated within the organization in Utah, Idaho and Washington. Despite all this, however, the loss will be painful.”
Beet Laboratory Set Up at Cornell University -- “A new laboratory to measure the quality of sugarbeets through a wide range of chemical analyses and tests has been established at Cornell University.
“Prof. Thomas W. Scott at the N.Y State College of Agriculture said the establishment of the new laboratory marks another milestone on the event of Central New York’s first commercial sugar production this year. Scott . . . said the laboratory is now ready to undertake virtually every aspect of sugarbeet testing in efforts to boost the quality of the product.
“Sugarbeets growing on Cornell’s research trials in 16 counties as well as those from fields operated by the Empire State Sugar Co. (Pepsi-Cola) will be tested and analyzed.
“One of the major tasks for the new laboratory, to be supervised by Thomas Greweling, director of agronomy laboratories, is to determine sugar content and purity.
“The exact amount of sugar that can be extracted from beets in the factory can be determined at the laboratory, said Scott. This will be done with a new assay technique simulating actual beet sugar processing . . .
“More emphasis on quality in terms of the amount of recoverable sugar from beets rather than the volume of over-all yields per acres is being made throughout the United States, he explained. This trend is strongly reflected in the contract terms between growers and the Empire Sugar Co., under which growers will be paid on the basis of sugar produced per farm rather than by average yields or tonnage of beets, he said.”
Construction on Maine Beet Plant Progresses -- “Despite earlier setbacks, construction is under way on a $14.7 million sugarbeet refinery in potato-growing Aroostook County.
“The refinery is being built by a nonprofit corporation for lease to Maine Sugar Industries, Inc., a company established to operate the plant. Vahlsing, Inc., a Ribbinsville, N.J., potato processing and food company, owns 76,100 shares of Maine Sugar Industries’ 166,000 shares outstanding, and a company owned by the Vahlsing family owns another 6,000 shares. American Maize Products Co., New York-based producer of syrups and other corn products, owns 31,000 shares. The rest of the shares are held by small investors.
“The refinery, adjacent to a Vahlsing potato-processing plant here, is slated to grind its first beet crop in the fall of 1966. . . . An earlier plan to build a $17.5 million beet-processing plant in Caribou, Maine, collapsed when Great Western Sugar Co., Denver, which was to operate the plant, withdrew from the project.”
Farms Producing Sugar Crops Show Decline — “The number of farms in the United States, including Puerto Rico, producing sugar crops has declined about 36 per cent since 1950.
“The Agriculture Department has reported that in 1950, the number of farms growing sugar cane and sugar beets totaled about 58,190. This number had declined to about 37,126 in 1964. Officials said figures for this year undoubtedly will show a further loss.
“But the total acreage growing cane and beets increased from 1,710,000 in 1950 to 2,350,000 in 1964.”
Increased Use of Sugar in Feed Noted — “A plan to increase significantly the amount of sugar in feeds for cattle, hogs and poultry has been introduced to the sugar trade.
“Drawing on research by one of its subsidiaries, W.R. Grace & Co. asserted that, with prices at current low levels, sugar may be incorporated in feeds as an energy source priced competitively with corn. At present, sweeteners are used in feeds mainly to increase palatability.”