By Mike Spieker
FARGO, N.D. – American Crystal Sugar Company held its annual shareholders meeting December 7th in Fargo. Tom Astrup, the co-op’s president and CEO said the projected initial gross beet payment for the 2017 crop is $46 per ton.
That projected payment is higher than last year’s final payment of $42.45 per ton, mainly because the sugar content of the 2017 crop was higher than that of 2016.
The 2016 sugarbeet crop yielded a record average of 30.4 tons per acres, with an average sugar content of 17.02 percent, stated a release by American Crystal. Better than forecasted sugar prices and good operating results in 2016, including lower operating costs combined to raise the final payment over estimates made earlier in the year. The total shareholder payments for the 2016 crop reached $500 million.
While the 2017 crop didn’t quite reach last year’s record, shareholders still produced a solid 30.2 tons per acre. What may be more important, however, was the higher sugar content of this year’s crop, which came in at 18.11 percent.
So Far, So Good
Despite the warmer than average temperatures in the Red River Valley, Astrup says the sugarbeets are storing nicely. “So far, the weather has been almost ideal,” he said. “We’ve had cool weather in late October and November. Now we are receiving our first shot of winter, which has allowed us to turn on the fans to freeze those beets down.”
Red River Valley sugarbeet growers produced an overall tonnage record for American Crystal in 2017, coming in at 12 million tons grown on 400,000 acres. That mark broke the previous record set in 2006 at 11.91 million ton grown on 500,000 acres.
Astrup says he expects the processing campaign to run until the end of May at a few of American Crystal’s factories.