BAY CITY, MI — Michigan Sugar Co. is preparing to begin its 2019-2020 sugar beet harvest on Monday, Sept. 9, which means sugar beet trucks will be on the roads once again, hauling the crop from field to factory.
Beginning on Monday, Michigan Sugar will receive sugar beets at its facilities in Bay City, Caro, Croswell and Sebewaing, according to a company news release. All four factories are scheduled to start the company’s annual sugar beet slicing campaign on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Company officials predict this processing campaign will last 185 to 190 days and be complete between March 10 and March 15.
The company planted 154,000 acres of sugar beets, 3,000 fewer acres than originally planned.
“We had a very challenging spring due to wet weather and field conditions that created great variability across our growing region,” Jim Ruhlman, Michigan Sugar’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “Some of our nearly 900 grower-owners were able to plant beets in March, while others had to wait until June. The result is a crop that continues to show great variability."
Pre-harvest samples taken in late August showed an average sugar content of 17.07%, the highest pre-harvest sample quality in eight years. And stand count — the average number of beets in a 100-yard row — came in at 213, also an eight-year high, according to the release.
The average yield in the pre-harvest sample was down, though, at 19.34 tons per acre, compared with 23.29 tons per acre last year, and a dry August is to blame. Michigan Sugar’s estimated yield, dependent on adequate rainfall in the coming weeks, is 27.5 tons per acre, down from last year’s final yield of 29.3 tons per acre, the release states. That equates to more than 4.2 million tons expected for delivery.
“We can certainly use some rain over the next few weeks, but the good news is we have an incredibly healthy crop,” Ruhlman’s statement continued. “Our growers have simply done a phenomenal job.”
Bay City-based Michigan Sugar was founded in 1906 when six smaller sugar companies merged operations. In 2002, Michigan Sugar became a grower-owned cooperative and in 2004, it merged with Monitor Sugar Co. to form the company that exists today.
Michigan Sugar has sugar beet processing facilities in Bay City, Caro, Croswell and Sebewaing. Its nearly 900 grower-owners plant and harvest up to 160,000 acres of sugar beets each year in 20 Michigan counties, as well as Ontario, Canada. Those beets are sliced at Michigan Sugar factories and turned into about 1.3 billion pounds of sugar annually, which is sold to industrial, commercial and retail customers under the Pioneer and Big Chief brands.
Michigan Sugar, the third-largest of nine sugar beet processing companies in the United States, employs about 930 people year-round and an additional 1,100 seasonal workers, making it the No. 1 employer in Huron County, the No. 2 employer in Bay and Sanilac counties and the No. 3 employer in Tuscola County. Its annual payroll is more than $65 million and its annual local economic impact is about $500 million.
Michigan Sugar is hiring. Visit www.michigansugar.com and click on the “Careers” link to learn more.