Sugar beet harvest begins earlier than usual - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Sugar beet harvest begins earlier than usual

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(09/04/12) - It's a sweet time to be a sugar beet farmer in Mid-Michigan.

It's a sign of the season: the sugar beet harvest is already underway. But it started earlier than usual, and growers are expecting to produce some stellar sugar this year.

"I think we're going to have an above average crop," said Ray VanDriessche, director of community and government relations with the Michigan Sugar Co.

Trucks are already rolling into Michigan Sugar in Bay City, dropping off the season's first few loads of beets.

"We do have what we call early delivery, which allows us to get started earlier when we have a bigger crop coming, and so this year we started on the twenty-second of August," VanDriessche said.

That's roughly a week earlier than usual. The same weather that devastated apple and cherry crops across the state, was a blessing for sugar beet growers.

"Their issues is what help make our crop as good as it is, the early spring helped us, we were able to get planted, I believe we had all our sugar beets in, in March," said sugar beet grower Charles Brauer.

And sugar beets are so hearty, the dry summer barely phased them. By the time they're done harvesting this fall, growers are expecting a crop that'll be hard to 'beet.'

"We've got healthy beets, the potential is phenomenal, we got a nice rain this morning and that's just going to make the beets grow and get that much better," Brauer said.

Growers should be done harvesting at the end of October, and Michigan Sugar will have harvested 163,000 acres of sugar beets.

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