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UPPER THUMB — As Michigan Sugar Co. gears up for its annual slicing campaign, the company is predicting 5 percent growth in this year’s sugarbeets harvested.
The 2018-19 sugarbeet slicing campaign begins Monday in Bay City and Caro.
The company’s factories in Croswell and Sebewaing will begin receiving and slicing beets on Aug. 27.
The firm is currently hiring seasonal workers.
“As we turn the calendar page to August, we see tremendous overall growth in our beet crop,” stated James Ruhlman, executive vice president for Michigan Sugar Co., in a press release.
“Our estimated yield, dependent on adequate rainfall in late August and early September, is now 29.5 tons per acre on 157,000 acres planted,” he added. “That equates to more than 4.6 million tons delivered.”
That’s up 5 percent from last year’s 3.85 million tons.
But a record crop like 2015's 31.64 tons per acre is not expected, said Rob Clark, director of communications and community relations for Michigan Sugar Co.
“We’re not forecasting record tonnage this year,” he told the Tribune. “Any time we’re around the 30 mark, that’s good news.”
In 2016, farmers harvested 31.03 tons per acre and sugar content was down, Clark added. Last year's yield was 25.56 tons per acre, although sugar content was up.
With recent rain, Ruhlman stated pre-harvest samples taken on Aug. 9 showed the 2018 crop grew on average 4.5 tons per acre during the previous two weeks.
“Plant health continues to be strong, root structure is robust and stands are spectacular,” he stated.
Clark said sugarbeet resilience has paid off this year.
“We’re lucky that beets are tough,” he said.
“In terms of the dry weather, obviously, the lack of rain this summer had an impact,” Clark added. “But … sugarbeets are pretty resilient. So when the rain finally did come this month, that was a blessing for sure, and that really helped our crop take off.”
Huron County and the Thumb Area were most in need of rain, he noted.
The slicing campaign is also expected to go longer than last year’s by a couple of weeks, according to the press release.
Once all of the factories are up and running, Michigan Sugar Co. anticipates slicing an average 21,500 tons of sugarbeets per day.
This year, Michigan Sugar Co. is focusing on reducing losses associated with the piling and storage of sugarbeets. That includes the use of equipment aimed at reducing sugarbeet spillage, added ventilation systems at the piling grounds in Ruth, upgrades to a ventilated storage facility in Sebewaing and a change in procedure in Bay City.
“In Bay City, we are making a conscious effort to handle beets fewer times by dumping directly into the hoppers at the factory and reducing loads dumped on the slab,” stated Ruhlman.
The company invested about $17.1 million of new capital at its four factories, including $12.2 million to upgrade the Croswell factory as part of an effort to increase sugarbeet slicing capacity by 50 percent — from 4,000 tons per day to 6,000 tons per day.
The work in Croswell included installation of new juice storage tanks, beet slicers and juice filtration equipment. It marked the third year of upgrades as part of a five-year plan.
To learn more about available jobs and to apply, visit www.michigansugar.com and click on the “Careers” link.
Applications also are available at the security stations located outside the following locations:
• Bay City factory, 2600 S. Euclid Ave.
• Caro factory, 819 Peninsular St.
• Croswell factory, 159 S. Howard St.
• Sebewaing factory, 763 N. Beck St.
• Carrollton warehouse, 341 Sugar St.
Applications also are available at the company’s piling stations in Albee, Blumfield, Deckerville, Ruth, Sandusky, Verona and Wheeler, which is near Breckenridge.
"Beet trucks will be on the road again starting next week," Clark said. "And we're looking forward to a great harvest and a great campaign."
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August 20, 2018 at 02:14PM