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“We’re excited about this crop,” said Jim Ruhlman, executive vice president of Michigan Sugar Company.
Ruhlman was talking about the yields and sugar content for sugarbeets that are being harvested in Sanilac County and the rest pf the Thumb area, Saginaw Valley, and the southeast corner of the state for Michigan Sugar Company factories in Croswell, Caro, Sebewaing and Bay City.
“This year Michigan Sugar planted about 162,000 acres, about eight thousand more than the year before,” Ruhlman told the News during a phone interview last week.
“Our growing season started with some hurdles. We had to replant about 30,000 acres due to a freeze. We got past the freeze, heavy rains in May, flooding. It was really dry in July with high temperatures.
“At the end of the day, our crop looked excellent. We got rain when we needed it in August.”
The crop matured so well, that the company was able to begin the harvest, which is called a “campaign,” two weeks early, in mid-August, the earliest start date in recent history.
The projections that the company had for yields and sugar content at the start of harvest are on target.
“We’re expecting our yields to be between 29 and 30 tons per acre on average. And we’re expecting about 18 percent sugar on average,” Ruhlman said.
“Harvest has gone extremely well. Yields continue to climb, sugar continues to climb… We’re very pleased with the health of the crop and growth of the crop with yields and sugar.
“We’re estimating an overall crop with 4.9 million tons of sugarbeets, with an overall average of 18 percent.”
By comparison, the 2019 campaign, which started in early September with 8,000 fewer acres planted, produced 4.1 million tons of sugarbeets.
Ruhlman said this year’s harvest is expected to end around Nov. 10, while slicing will continue to about March 25 of next year.
Meanwhile, the company is in the final year of its five-year, $65 million investment in the Croswell factory.
With the improvements that range from washing the beets and expanded slicing capacity to new packaging equipment, there’s more “sugar output at the end,” said Ruhlman.
The investment includes the new piling ground that covers 30-plus acres at the northeast corner of Croswell Road and M-90, east of the factory.
The piling area is expected to be ready for beets by Oct. 19, while the weather is expected to be cool enough to stockpile the crop at the company’s piling stations.
“Our growers took exceptional care. Crop health is outstanding, and yield and sugar look very favorable.”
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October 7, 2020 at 03:27PM