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‘Serving The Nation’s Sugarbeet Community Since 1963’ Volume 50 Number 6 November/December 2011

Sugar Publications 4601 16th Ave. N. Fargo, ND 58102 Phone: (701) 476-2111 Fax: (701) 476-2182 E-Mail: Web Site: Publisher: Sugar Publications General Manager & Editor: Don Lilleboe Advertising Manager: Heidi Wieland (701) 476-2003 Graphics: Forum Communications Printing

Page 6 Page 12

— Feature Articles — Beets in Grande Ronde . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Production pocket in northeastern Oregon

Stacking Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Michigan Sugar takes different tack to piling, storage

142,000+ Jobs & $20 Billion in Revenue . 16 That’s the economic impact of the U.S. sugar industry

The Sugarbeet Grower is published six times annually (January, February, March, April/May, July/August, November/December) by Sugar Publications, a division of Forum Communications Printing. North American sugarbeet producers receive the magazine on a complimentary basis. Annual subscription rates are $12.00 domes— Regular Pages — tic and $18.00 for foreign subscribers. Advertising in The Sugarbeet Grower does not necessarily imply endorsement of a Write Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 particular product or service by the publisher. One More Round . . .

— Front Cover —

Visit Our Website! Updated & Expanded!

30 Years Ago . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

USDA’s first estimate of 2011 U.S. sugarbeet production placed this year’s crop at almost 28.9 million tons — about 3 million below that of 2010. An updated estimate will be released in January.

Excerpts from our December 1981 issue

Photo: Don Lilleboe

Around the Industry . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Dateline: Washington . . . . . . . . . . 10 National debt, farm bill, Roundup Ready

Who, what & where it’s happening

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011


I noticed things were not just right; I thought I heard a sound. But I could finish up that truck If it made just one last round. The shift would then be over, The guys all homeward bound. Then I’ll have time to fix it up After one more round.

Write Field

I can’t see it anyway ’Til I twist way around. I’ll stop and take a better look After one more round. The smoke cloud isn’t all that thick; It’s just begun to pound. I sure think that it will hold While I make one more round. Most things are still quite in place, Not dragging on the ground. I’ll be closer to the service truck If I make one more round.

By David Kragnes

One More Round The parts man slowly shook his head, Then grumbled as he frowned. “I guess it looks to me like You tried for one more round.�

I said, “I hope that you can match The pieces that I found. I guess I darkened up the paint On that one last round.�

The King of Optimism I guess I should be crowned, For thinking there was any chance To make it one more round.

David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. He is a former chairman of American Crystal Sugar Co., and currently serves on the board of directors of CoBank.

American Sugarbeet Growers Association

2012 Annual Meeting HXUR-Tiger

‘Designing the 2012 Farm Bill in a Turbulent Economic and Political Environment’

February 9-11 Walt Disney World Swan Resort Lake Buena Vista, Fla. HXUR-Maus




— For Details —

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

Photo: Don Lilleboe

Left: Veteran Amalgamated Sugar crop consultant Bill Wahlert has worked with Grande Ronde Valley sugarbeet growers since the crop was introduced into the northeastern Oregon area in the 1990s.

Beets in Grande Ronde Small Production Pocket in Northeastern Oregon Produces High Sugars But Wrestles Aphanomyces early all shareholders of Snake River Sugar Company — the parent cooperative of Amalgamated Sugar Company — farm in the Magic Valley of south central Idaho or the


Treasure Valley of western Idaho/eastern Oregon. There are two exceptions. One is the Horse Heaven Hills area adjacent to the Columbia River in southern Washington, where three

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farming operations currently produce about 2,000 acres of sugarbeets. The other is in northeastern Oregon’s Grande Ronde Valley, where eight Amalgamated shareholders raise another 2,000 acres of beets each year. Bill Wahlert is the longtime Amalgamated crop consultant who works with growers in those two locales. Beets from both Horse Heaven Hills and the Grande Ronde Valley are trucked to Nampa, Idaho, site of Amalgamated’s nearest factory, for processing. That’s no small feat, given that Horse Heaven Hills is about 290 miles from Nampa, while LaGrande — the biggest community in the Grande Ronde Valley — lies approximately 160 miles to the northwest of Nampa. Why does the company maintain production so far away from the factory? Quantity and quality. Horse Heaven Hills beet yields commonly average 43-45 tons per acre, with sugar content typically in the high 16s. Tonnage is lower around LaGrande, but growers there “are almost always in the upper 17s or lower 18s on sugar content,” Wahlert notes. That’s a good 1% above the overall company sugar average in a typical year. Because these two production pockets are quite limited in acreage and so distant from the main production region, no beet seed company develops varieties specifically for them. Nor is there any public or private research established in these two pockets — with one exception. That exception is Bill Wahlert. Since the late 1990s, he has operated his own unofficial variety trials, typically planting two or three varieties from each of the seed companies that are active in the Treasure Valley (Betaseed, Crystal Beet Seed, Holly/SESVanderhave and Syngenta/Hilleshog). One trial site is in Horse Heaven Hills; the other near LaGrande. Varieties in both locations are replicated twice, and Wahlert hosts an annual field day where growers can view the plots and visit with seed company representatives. Year-end harvested results likewise are shared with local growers and the seed companies. Within recent years, Wahlert’s trials have had an added dimension: comparing varieties for tolerance/resistance to Aphanomyces. (Cont.)

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

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Photos: Don Lilleboe

John Frisch This disease is presently considered the biggest challenge to sugarbeet production in the LaGrande area. (It’s just as serious, or worse, in Horse Heaven Hills.) “I can find Aphanomyces to some degree in every field I go into” in the Grande Ronde Valley, Wahlert says. He and others believe it has been present in valley beet fields for a number of years, but previously wasn’t well understood or taken too seriously. “Then, in 2006, we had a bad year. And in 2008 we started rating the varieties in the strip trials [for tolerance to Aphanomyces].” A liming study was conducted that same year. “Since then, growers have been applying lime — maybe not as much as they should; but if they know they have an Aphanomyces problem, they’re generally putting down about two tons of dry spent lime to the acre,” Wahlert says. One complication in gauging varieties for tolerance to Aphanomyces is

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LaGrande, Ore., grower Guy Weishaar commonly rotates sugarbeets in behind mint. He’s shown here next to a pile of mint sludge, a byproduct of mint oil extraction. The sludge is spread on fields to help protect against erosion from winter winds. the requirement that all Treasure Valley-approved varieties have acceptable levels of resistance to curly top — long a prime disease issue in that production area. Curly top is not as consistent a problem in the Grande Ronde Valley as it is in the Treasure Valley, and some of the best curly top varieties don’t have very good Aphanomyces tolerance. All of the area’s sugarbeet growers use Tachigaren-treated seed for early season control of Aphanomyces. But it’s agreed that for good management of the mid-season form of this disease, the long-term answer has to come in the form of tolerant or resistant varieties.

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John Frisch says he’s been liming to help manage Aphanomyces in his sugarbeet fields. Just as important, though, he now takes a different approach to his center-pivot irrigation. “Bill has really hammered on me to back off on my irrigation, and I’ve resisted,” Frisch states. “But I did this year, and it made a difference.” The idea is to lengthen out the interval between irrigation cycles so that the soil has time to partially dry out — hence not being as conducive for Aphanomyces development. Frisch says higher-than-average spring rainfall made that decision easier this year. “I knew we had good subsoil moisture, so I wasn’t quite as worried about getting behind” on sprinkler applications,” he notes. Guy Weishaar, another LaGrande area grower, also sees the benefit of stretching out irrigation intervals. “We’ve been irrigating in this valley for 50 years, so we understand our soil water needs and plant needs,” Weishaar observes. “I like to water real heavy; then back off and let them dry down.” Some of his fields contain up to seven or eight different soil types — everything from sand to heavy clays. “So there are some soils where it’s not going to work well; they’re just going to stay wet,” he points out. “But other soils will dry out.” Along with Tachigaren, “it’s about the only tool we have” for Aphanomyces management.

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

Would longer rotations help slow the disease? Some of Weishaar’s fields go five to six years between beet crops. But Aphanomyces was evident even in a 2011 field that hadn’t been in sugarbeets for eight years. “So it’s spreading,” says Weishaar, who believes that one conveyor of the disease inoculum is soil movement from consistent winter winds. ther than the Aphanomyces issue, the Grande Ronde Valley has proven to be a solid sugarbeet production area since beets were introduced in the early 1990s. Its growing season is shorter than that of the Treasure Valley and Magic Valley, however, which does crimp yields a bit. Frisch and Weishaar like to be planting beets by April 15; but steady spring rains pushed that back this year — as far as to May 15, Frisch reports. “We’re surrounded here by mountains,” Bill Wahlert explains. Along with a slightly later spring and earlier fall, the environment produces cooler summer nights — “and that helps sugar content.” On the down side, though, “because it is a little cooler, we just don’t get as much growth” compared to the Treasure and Magic valleys. (Tonnage commonly averages in the upper 20s.) Late spring and/or early fall frosts can also hamper beet development. “We usually figure on getting a killing frost somewhere around the first full week in May,” Frisch says. “We had a light frost on June 22 this year.” On the other end of the growing season, the first fall frost in 2011, admittedly a spotty one, arrived on September 4. Nitrogen management is another category where Wahlert and area sugarbeet growers are exploring and refining. Amalgamated’s local crop consultants (who used to be called “fieldmen”) have been evaluating whether the company’s standard guideline of eight pounds of available nitrogen per ton of expected yield is still appropriate. So Wahlert initiated evaluation plots. “With the high organic matter levels here, the question is, ‘Do we get more mineralization — and, if so, do I need to stick to that eight-pound standard? Can we get by with six or seven?’ ” he asks. The 2010 results suggested that seven pounds per ton was the most-efficient level. Preliminary evaluation of his 2011 data suggests that somewhere between six and seven pounds produced the best yield. Guy Weishaar applies less nitrogen to his sugarbeets than most growers


— for a very good reason. Weishaar is a mint grower and follows mint with sugarbeets. “Mint is a shallow-rooted crop and leaves quite a bit of nitrogen behind, so I like to use the beets to go down and pick that up,” he explains. “In some years, I’ll apply just 50-80 pounds [per acre] of nitrogen for the beets because the rest of what they need is already down there.” Weishaar also operates a mint oil extraction plant on his farm and spreads the mint sludge byproduct across fields as a form of cover against wind erosion.

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

John Frisch is using a ridge-till approach to help protect his fields. His beets typically follow wheat, “and we leave all the straw; we don’t bail anything off,” he says. Building ridges in the fall, coupled with all that wheat residue, has proven an effective method of over-winter erosion control. Plus, ridge tops dry out faster in the spring, facilitating a little earlier planting date. Frisch believes that the ridges also can be of benefit with Aphanomyces by helping keep the beets in them a little drier. — Don Lilleboe ❖


Dateline: Washington Super Committee The implosion of the efforts of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee (“Super Committee”) to cut the nation’s staggering deficits and mounting debt have left voters engulfed in bewilderment. Members of Congress privately shared with us that they had hoped the Super Committee would be successful, thus avoiding confirmation or reinforcement of voters’ suspicions that the Congress is, in many ways, dysfunctional. The fact of the matter is that you cannot address the deficit and debt issues without touching Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense and the current tax code. Every one of those issues is a political lightning rod with its own vocal and politically active base. In the aftermath of the Super Committee’s failure to produce any results, there is no clear path forward except to begin adjusting to across-the-board cuts throughout the government in 2013. In the meantime, congressional leaders will have to assess both the political and economic fallout from the debacle. Politically, when Congress has a 9% voter approval rating, there is not a lot of room to fall — it is equivalent to plunging to the ground after jumping out your basement window.

2012 Farm Bill The future of the 2012 Farm Bill is now in question. The Joint Ag Committee (House and Senate ag chairs and ranking members) was the only authorizing committee to come forward with a bipartisan plan to take a $23 billion cut over 10 years with major changes in farm policy. Congressional ag leaders should be applauded for their efforts, and hats off to staff who worked so diligently to put a bill together. In the end, the 2012 Farm Bill was essentially all dressed up with no place to go. Now what? Farmers need clarity and certainty as to what the future holds for farm policy as preparation begins for planting the 2012 crop. The fact and the truth is that there is no certain, clear path forward. If Congress does nothing, a farm bill will be written next spring and summer in a brutal economic and political environment. If congressional leaders can engage the White House and collectively find solutions to the nation’s fiscal problems, progress could be made — but it is a bit naïve to expect that in an election year.


By Luther Markwart Executive Vice President American Sugarbeet Growers Assn.

Congress still has a month to sort out what the next steps will be after a cooling-off period during the Thanksgiving holiday, when they will face voter reaction. Perhaps some of the political fog will clear and new options or opportunities will emerge. The one fundamental issue you have to always remember is that Congress makes the rules it plays by. As one former Appropriations chairman used to say, “The rules are the rules until we change the rules. Then those are the rules!” We will be watching and monitoring the events in December very closely.

Roundup Ready Sugarbeets As you know, the public commenting period on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) ends on December 13. The industry has spent a good deal of time digesting this comprehensive analysis and recommending that the crop be deregulated once again. Many thanks go out to all of the growers and processor leaders who spoke out at public meetings in Fargo, N.D., and Corvallis, Ore., to support the full deregulation of RRSB. Each of your comments is important, and we appreciate each and every one of you who took the time and effort to support this important technology. Once all of the comments are received, the draft EIS will be reviewed and perhaps modified before it is finalized sometime next summer. In the meantime, litigation continues to proceed on schedule, and I will report on it once it is timely and appropriate to do so.

Crop Insurance RMA has agreed to begin a pilot project to cover field piles (“clamps”) in Michigan and southern Minnesota through the coverage period of November 15, starting with the 2012 crop. We believe this will help all parties reduce losses due to adverse weather during harvest.

2012 ASGA Annual Meeting Mark your calendar to attend this meeting in sunny Orlando, Fla., February 9-11 at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotel. Group rates will be offered until January 19. Program, destination and registration information are available on the ASGA website ( Register online before January 6 to avoid a $25 late registration fee. ❖

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

GROWFORWARD In the sugarbeet business, the outlook is always changing— month to month, farm to farm, field to field. But with three seed series engineered for specific conditions in your growing region, you’re ready to adapt and thrive with change. Whatever the future brings, count on strong yields, targeted disease resistance and reliable revenue. SESVanderHave: the power to grow forward.

SDA’s initial estimate of 2011 U.S. sugarbeet production placed this year’s crop size at nearly 28.9 million tons — about __% lower than the 2010 production level of 31.9 million tons. The November report number was based on an average yield of 23.9 tons off 1,207,700 harvested acres. The projected 2011 average yield is 3.7 tons less than 2010’s excellent average of 27.6 tons per acre. The 2011 harvested acreage number is about 52,000 above last year’s level. At an estimated 9.01 million tons, Minnesota remains far and away the nation’s largest producer of sugarbeets. That number, however, is down sharply from the state’s 2010 output of 11.73 million tons. At 6.02 million tons, Idaho reclaims the number-two spot, followed by North Dakota at 4.74 million tons and Michigan at a projected 3.67 million tons. Four states — California, Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming — were expected to end up producing more tons of beets this year than they did the prior year. The next estimate of 2011 beet production will be released in January. Sugarcane production for sugar and seed) in 2011 was pegged at 28.6 million tons, up from 2010’s 27.4 million. ❖

First USDA 2011 Crop Estimate U Places Beet Production at 28.9 Million Tons U.S. Sugarbeet Production, Final 2010 & Initial 2011

California Colorado Idaho Michigan Minnesota Montana Nebraska North Dakota Oregon Wyoming United States

Area Harvested



(1,000 Acres)


(1,000 Tons)

2010 2011 25.1 25.1 27.9 28.7 170.0 178.0 147.0 149.0 441.0 462.0 42.5 43.1 47.5 51.0 214.0 231.0 10.3 8.8 30.4 31.0 1,155.7 1,207.1

2010 40.0 29.5 31.0 26.0 26.6 29.5 23.8 26.5 36.3 27.0 27.6

2011 43.0 28.0 33.8 24.6 19.5 25.8 25.0 20.5 36.4 27.0 23.9

2010 2011 1,004 1,079 823 804 5,270 6,016 3,822 3,665 11,731 9,009 1,254 1,112 1,131 1,275 5,671 4,736 374 320 821 837 31,901 28,853

Source: USDA-NASS November 2011


THE SUGARBEET GROWER (Upper Midwest) November/December 2011

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Numbers Indicate Candy Companies Doing Fine Commentary from the American Sugar Alliance he National Confectioners Association (NCA) — the lobbying arm of the candy business — has a handy profile of the U.S. confectionery industry on its website. And that page posted a few facts that really stood out. • “In 2010, NCA estimates that U.S. confectionery sales accounted for $29.4 billion, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2009.” • “Confectionery manufacturers spend more than $4 billion on commodities each year.” • This includes “more than 2.44 billion lbs of sugar at a cost of nearly $100 million.” In other words, candy makers’ revenues are bringing in nearly $30 billion a year, while they are only spending $4 billion on commodities to make their product. Even more astounding is NCA’s admission that sugar only costs the industry $100 million, or 2% of its commodity purchases. With figures like that, it’s little wonder that NCA also posted these statements on its site about profitability in recent years. • “Not only is confectionary a large product category . . . it is a high profit category.” January 2008 • “The retail profit margin is approximately 35% for the confectionery category.” May 2009 • “Confectionery [is] seen as a recession resistant category.” February 2010 • “Despite a shaky economy for the past two and half years, sales continue to increase an average of 3% per year, with a nearly 4% gain this past year.” March 2011


ack Roney, economist with the American Sugar Alliance, says with the wide spread between revenue and cost, it seems odd that NCA has spent so much time and money lately on Capitol Hill lobbying for the annihilation of a sugar policy under which they are thriving. This policy operates at no cost to taxpayers because sugar farmers don’t receive government subsidy checks, but large candy companies allege it leads to sugar prices that are too high. If it has led to higher prices, it certainly hasn’t slowed these companies’ economic growth. Since the current U.S. sugar policy took hold in 2008, candy production in the United States has grown 2.5%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Roney also notes that U.S. candy companies are expanding their U.S. facilities and adding jobs. “According to NCA’s figures, sugar costs represent just one-third of 1% of the confectionery industry’s revenue,” Roney says. “If true, that’s simply amazing.” Although, Roney has some question about the accuracy of this figure. “I would have thought that figure would have been closer to $1 billion,” he explains, “which is still miniscule and just 3% of confection revenue.” Regardless of the right answer, Roney hopes Congress will take note. “Clearly, sugar isn’t expensive,” he concludes. “Using NCA’s own numbers, it’s obvious they are thriving — and sugar has one of the few government policies out there that doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.” ❖



THE SUGARBEET GROWER (Upper Midwest) November/December 2011

30 Years Ago Vertical Tiller Saves Fuel and Chemicals — “Over one-fifth of the energy used in North Dakota agriculture is consumed for tillage operations. Recently, new reduced tillage equipment has been introduced for sugarbeet and other row crop production that cold reduce fuel consumption for tillage by approximately 50 percent, according to Jerry Fitts, extension sugarbeet specialist at North Dakota State University. “The new equipment is a vertical-action power rotary tiller with eight L-shaped knives which can intertill strips eight inches wide and up to four inches deep in small grain stubble, Fitts said. . . . “Producers perform an average of six tillage operations in the fall. These include moldboard plow, chisel plow, offset disk, field cultivator, multiweeder, and land leveler operations. According to Fits, with the new vertical-action tiller the grower can reduce these tillage operations to once in the fall. Computerized budget analysis shows that the ‘conventional’ tillage system using the six operations mentioned earlier utilizes approximately 21 gallons of diesel fuel per acre. The ‘reduced tillage’ system, using the vertical-action tiller, utilizes approximately 10 gallons of fuel per acre, a 50 percent savings in fuel consumption. “The new piece of equipment can also be used to apply chemical and granular materials, he continued. Nozzles and boxes have been installed on the equipment which deposit these materials directly into the 8-inch strips. ‘This means an additional savings in chemicals as well as fuel,’ Fitts said, ‘because you are only applying them to the 8-inch strip instead of broadcasting them over a 22-inch row as in the conventional system.’ ” Valley Growers Harvest Third Largest Crop — “[Red River] Valley [American] Crystal growers harvested the third largest crop in history on a gross tonnage basis with 5,170,000 tons of beets purchased. Average [tonnage] per acre of 18.6 ranks second to the 19.5 tons per acre record of 1978. “Larger gross tonnages were recorded in 1977 (5,295,000 tons) and 1978 (5,895,000 tons), but came from 304,000 acres. The 1981 crop was harvested from the reduced acreage now in effect.” Sweetener Approved — “Aspartame, a low-calorie sweetener has been accepted by the Food and Drug Administration for use in a variety of foods, Food Engineering reports. The product was developed by G.D. Searle & Co. for use as a tabletop sweetener and as an ingredient in dry food products. “Aspartame may be used as a low-calorie sweetener

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

Excerpts from the December 1981 Issue of The Sugarbeet Grower

in powdered soft drinks, presweetened breakfast cereals, chewing gum, dry gelatin mixes, desserts and toppings, and [in] presweetened coffees and teas. It cannot be used in baked goods, however, because the compound breaks down under the high temperatures required for baking.” For Processors Who Are Wet-Milling Corn . . . The Time Is Right — “Through 1980, the industry has expanded its production. But the development of the new HFCS 55 percent fructose content product, last year’s high sugar prices, and last year’s decision by major soft drink companies to replace some of the sugar in their products with HFCS, has changed the industry’s outlook. The word is expansion, and the industry can handle it. “There are currently 26 corn wetmilling plants operating, or soon to be operating, in the U.S. Seventeen have been built since 1960. All of the plants are modern facilities, ready to process corn efficiently. And, according to Robert Barry, USDA sugar specialist, HFCS capacity is expected to expand between 75 to 80 percent between 1980 and 1985. “ ‘Wet-milling corn has many benefits,’ Barry says. ‘Diversity is the most obvious.’ Wet-milled corn can be used in five major product categories: starches, corn syrups, dextrose, HFCS, and corn by-products such as corn gluten feed, meal, and corn oil. Some processors are interested in adding a sixth — ethanol.” Facts About Sugar in the 1981 General Farm Bill — “The USDA reports that had there been no U.S. sugar industry during the most recent worldwide shortage, the world price of sugar would have been increased ‘several hundred percent.’ . . . “The balance of payment deficit [accounted] for by sugar imports in 1980 approximated $2 billion. Had the nation’s total sugar requirements come from imports, the balance of payments deficit would have been at least $4.7 billion (and quite likely substantially more). . . . “The U.S. is a rarity among sugar producing and consuming nations because it has no long-range policy for sugar. . . . “A loan program covering sugar crops would not be a departure from programs covering other commodities and is justified by the same reasoning as applied to support programs for other crops. . . . “A loan program for sugar would not require set asides (it is a deficit-produced crop); would not require direct payments (returns to farmers would come from the market); would not require on-farm storage (sugar will be stored by cane or beet processors). . . .” ❖


Stacking Up

Photo: Keith Kalso

Michigan Sugar Experiments With Field Cleaning & Stacking of Beets for Storage

he 2011 sugarbeet harvest marked the second year of an innovative — and successful — beet loading and storage project involving growers and staff of Michigan Sugar Company. In this project, which has been conducted in the co-op’s Sandusky and Bay City, Mich., and Dover, Ont., districts, participating growers dump their harvested beets on field edges. A Ropa ‘Maus’ machine cleans the beets before they are loaded into trucks and transported to the piling station. There, a “stacker” conveyor places the already-cleaned beets into standard long-term storage piles. The stacker is essentially a standard beet piler on which the grab-roll cleaning bed and dirt belt system have been bypassed or removed. Michigan Sugar’s goal for 2010 was to stack 50,000 tons of beets using this system. By harvest’s end, more than 60,000 tons had been cleaned by Maus machines and stacked at the two sites. In 2011, more than 135,000 tons were cleaned and stacked — nearly 72,000 at Dover and 43,000-plus at Sandusky. An additional 20,000-plus tons were stacked at a third site west of Bay City. The cooperative initially considered — and still considers — this to be a re-



Above: The beet stacker in action at the Michigan Sugar piling station near Dover, Ont. search project. “From a physiological standpoint, beet roots undergo a reststorage phase once they are harvested,” points out Keith Kalso, agricultural manager for Michigan Sugar’s Croswell factory district. “Removing roots from this phase usually ‘wakes them up,’ causing respiration, heat and then rotting. The theory being tested has been to pile the crop very briefly in the field (three days or less), clean off soil in the field with the Maus cleaner/loader — and then immediately place the beets into ‘stacker piles’ for long-term storage.” The concept being tested, Kalso explains, is whether moving the beets within that three-day period would be soon enough so that they wouldn’t enter the “rest-storage” phase. So far, that seems to be the case. There were no deterioration issues last year, and the company is confident the story will be the same this storage period. During the 2010/11 processing campaign, recovery of the stacker piles was intentionally delayed until mid-January

since the piles were storing so well. As in 2010, “we have temperature sensors in both stacked piles (i.e., Sandusky and Dover), so we’re watching temperatures very closely,” Kalso notes regarding this year’s project. (For comparison purposes, conventional piles have been “wired” as well.) He adds that most of the 2011 beets ended up being stacked within 24 to 36 hours after being harvested, so they’re well within that three-day window. The Sandusky stacking operation has loaded out field beets from the Ruth and Ubly vicinities, utilizing a Maus owned by growers Chris Guza and Les and Doug Volmering. This grower group also hauls the cleaned beets from their fields to the stacker piler at Sandusky, averaging about 40 tons per load. The Dover operation has utilized a commercial trucking company contracted by Michigan Sugar. One reason for doing so was the consistency of that fleet. “Because the dumping parts of their trucks were similar, we could match our conveyor configuration to fit; if we have a fleet of 25 trucks, they’re all the same,” Kalso notes. The Ontario fleet averaged about 43 tons per load. Dover growers paid the freight to get their beets from the field to the piling site. The 2011 stacking operation west of Bay City relied on grower Allen Moore, owner of a Maus, who coordinated with several other area growers. “The biggest [potential bottleneck] is not the stacker,” Kalso adds. “It’s trucks. You need a lot of trucks, because the Maus has capacity to clean and load up to 400-500 tons per hour.” ichigan Sugar’s plan is to conduct the stacked pile research project for one more year on a limited basis, do more intensive storage studies — and then expand the Maus/stacker concept to other piling sites, assuming all signs are favorable. The expansion is limited by not knowing the sustainability of the stacking and storage of the beets, Kalso says. “Quite a few growers are interested in buying a Maus; but we don’t want to go ‘too big too fast’ right now. If for some reason the beets don’t store well, we don’t want to be sitting with a lot of problems in the piles.” He emphasizes, though, that to date the stacked beets have stored just as well as the conventionally piled ones. “But that’s the reason we’re watching internal pile temperatures so closely,” he points out. Michigan had a wet fall in 2011 —


THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

Photo: Keith Kalso

Left: A Ropa Maus unit cleans beets and loads a truck at field’s edge for the trip to the piling site stacker.

which favors in-field cleaning. “When they sit for a day or two, the soil dries a bit and comes off easier,” Kalso notes. “That’s a nice advantage since that dirt is not being trucked to the piling site; it stays in the field. We were very pleased with how that worked this fall.” In the end, Kalso says the fieldcleaned/stacking approach promises


several benefits for both grower and the sugar cooperative? From the grower’s vantage point, it boils down to: • Reducing freight cost due to less dirt/mud being hauled. • Shorter lines at the piling yard. • No cross-contamination of soil at the piler.

• Less or no road mud. • Perhaps a need for fewer trucks. • A partial “disconnect” between digging and piling, so one can harvest at his own desired pace. • The Maus adjusts better than do pilers to field conditions for cleaning. From the company standpoint, stacking’s benefits would include: • Shorter lines at the piling yard. • Tare dirt remains in the field. • The Maus is gentler on the beets compared to standard pilers. • Less labor is required to operate stackers. • Grower shares responsibility for cleaning the crop. • Converting older pilers to stackers is less expensive than purchasing new pilers. So are there any downsides to this method of cleaning and piling sugarbeets. Yes, a few. For the grower, field piles need to be accessible — regardless of what the weather is like. Also, the field’s tare soil ends up in a moreconcentrated area. Finally, company ag management controls the schedule, so that can translate into less flexibility. From the company’s standpoint, the field cleaning/stacking process does require intense management. If beets freeze before going into the pile, that would cause problems. And finally, there’s the pressure to move those beets into the pile within that threeday window. To date, though, the positives have far outweighed any negatives, Kalso reiterates. One more year of research should go a long way toward determining if indeed this method of cleaning and storing sugarbeets becomes a widespread practice for Michigan Sugar Company and its growers. — Don Lilleboe ❖

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

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than 142,000 direct and indirect jobs and almost $20 billion in annual revenues. That was the bottom line of a study released during the American Sugar Alliance’s 28th International Sweetener Symposium, held in August. The study — conducted by LMC International, a global commodity research firm headquartered in London — was an update of a report outlining the sugar industry as of 1993/94. At that time, the numbers were 248,000 jobs and $10 billion in annual economic impact. Low prices in past years appear to be the culprit for the downfall in job, ASA noted, but a recent price recovery accounts for the gain in expenses. “Sugar prices were so low between 1994 and 2008 that companies were forced to close 37 beet or cane mills across the country,� said Jack Roney, ASA’s director of economics and policy analysis. The good news, Roney added, is that the job loss problem appears to have corrected itself for now, thanks in part to the no-cost sugar policy enacted by Congress in 2008. Under that policy, fewer sugar plants have closed than during any period in the last 20 years. “In rural areas where beets and cane are grown and processed, these jobs are the life blood of many communities,� Roney said. “In urban areas where cane refineries are located, these good-paying jobs are crucial as well, especially in the tough economic

situation the United States now finds itself in.� Despite past plant closures, producers’ improved efficiency enabled them to sustain sugar production levels. According to LMC data, U.S. production of sugar per worker grew from 119 tons in 1993/94 to 216 tons in 2009/10 — an 80% increase. LMC examined the jobs associated directly with the planting, cultivating and harvesting of sugarbeets and sugarcane, the processing of the beets and cane, and the refining of raw cane sugar. It then used U.S. Department of Commerce multipliers to estimate the number of indirect jobs generated by the U.S. sugar industry. Sugarbeets are grown in 11 states and sugarcane in four. Cane sugar refineries are located in six states. nother new LMC study released at the International Sweetener Symposium indicated that U.S. sugar producers are among the most efficient in the world. Of the 95 sugar-producing countries or regions examined, the United States is more efficient than 75 of them, LMC found. In fact, Americans are ranked the world’s most efficient beet sugar producers. LMC updates global cost of production figures regularly, and the current U.S. ranking — 20th lowest cost out of 95 — is its best ever. “Critics suggest the U.S. sugar industry is not efficient because there are restraints on the amount of subsidized foreign sugar that can enter the country. This study proves we are among the world’s most efficient and lowest-cost producers,� stated ASA’s Jack Roney. “Import restraints are in place in the U.S., as in most sugar-producing countries, because the world sugar market is polluted with substandard production practices, low labor and environmental standards, and huge trade distortions.� LMC measures efficiency by adding the cost of producing sugar in the field to the cost of extracting sugar from beets and cane at the mill. Production costs vary by seed variety and field practices, degree of mechanization, use of technology and labor and environmental standards. According to the LMC data, the United States has dropped from slightly above-average cost in 2002/03 to well below the world average in 2010/11. �


THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

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Around The Industry Metzger, Borud Now in New Ag Positions at Minn-Dak Co-op

Mike Metzger

Mark Borud

Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative announced last summer the promotion of two agriculturists to new positions within the co-op. Michael Metzger was selected to fill the newly created position of research agronomist with Minn-Dak. Metzger, who earned an M.S. degree in plant pathology from North Dakota State University, is working on his Ph.D. He has been at Minn-Dak since 2001. Mark Borud moved to the new position of ag operations manager. In that post, he is responsible for ag equipment operators, the truck shop, the beet transfer fleet and piler repair for the Wahpeton, N.D.-based cooperative. Borud, who has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from NDSU, has been with Minn-Dak since 2004. Greg Krause and Blake Buck took over the agriculturist duties that had been held by Metzger and Borud. Krause, an NDSU graduate in ag systems management, previously worked for Dakota Ag Co-op. Buck, a general agriculture graduate of NDSU, previously worked for Dupont-Pioneer.

Amalgamated’s Sugar Now Sold By National Sugar Marketing Amalgamated Sugar Company has, since last summer, been marketing its sugar through a new firm named National Sugar Marketing LLC. The firm is a joint venture developed by Amalgamated and Sucden Americas Corporation, a French-based sugar trading company with U.S. headquarters in Florida. National Sugar Marketing has exclusive rights to sell all the refined sugar marketed by both Amalgamated and Sucden in the United States.


Amalgamated, the nation’s second largest beet sugar processor, produces more than 900,000 tons of sugar annually. Sucden has a worldwide presence of 8 to 10 million tons annually. Sugar being sold by the new marketing firm is sourced from the United States, Mexico and the countries that are part of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA): Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Bill Smith is the president and CEO of National Sugar Marketing, whose creation made it one of the top five U.S. sugar marketers. Smith has more than 35 years of experience in the U.S. sugar industry. He held various positions with Savannah Foods in Georgia prior to coming to Amalgamated 15 years ago as the company’s vice president of sales and marketing

50th International Sugarbeet Institute Set for March 14 & 15 The 2012 International Sugarbeet Institute is scheduled for March 14 and 15 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Next year’s event marks the 50th anniversary of ISBI — the largest sugarbeet industry trade show in North America. Companies desiring preliminary exhibiting information for the 2012 International Sugarbeet Institute can contact exhibits coordinator Bob Cournia at (218) 281-4681. Other ISBI-related inquiries should be directed to Dr. Mohamed Khan, organizing committee chairman, at (701) 231-8596.

Well-Known Sugar Analyst Peter Buzzanell Passes Away Peter J. Buzzanell, a well-known figure in the U.S. sugar industry and a regular contributor to The Sugarbeet Grower, died on October 5 after a long illness involving liver disease. Peter worked for more than 25 years as an agricultural economist with the USDA in Washington, D.C., and overseas, including a period as leader of the sweetener analysis unit of USDA’s Economic Research Service. Following retirement, he worked as an international agricultural consultant and as a history and government substitute teacher in

the Fairfax County Public School system in Virginia. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Peter was awarded the Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medals with Combat “V”s for saving the lives of fellow Marines during the Vietnam War. He also was proud of his actions to save the lives of Vietnamese Peter Buzzanell civilians during combat operations in Vietnam. After military service, Peter earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii, with honors, and then went on to earn master’s degrees from the University of Florida and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

NipsIt SUITE Sugarbeet System Introduced by Valent U.S.A. Valent U.S.A. Corporation announced in September the availability of the NipsIt™ SUITE Sugarbeet System. NipsIt SUITE combines three super-systemic active ingredients into a single offer: leading-edge insect management tool NipsIt INSIDE® insecticide and two powerful fungicides — the newly registered METLOCK™ fungicide and metalaxyl, the industry standard against Pythium. The three come together to bring unsurpassed plant protection against yield-robbing insects such as sugarbeet root maggot, springtail and wireworm, and diseases such as Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Pythium. Through its super-systemic ingredients, NipsIt SUITE provides growers both contact and systemic protection when it matters most. “Sugarbeets can undergo significant pressure early in the season from diseases and insects, which can eventually affect crop quality and yield,” notes Jay Stroh, Valent seed protection marketing manager. “As both a systemic and contact protectant, NipsIt SUITE Sugarbeets uniquely delivers sugarbeet growers ‘inside out protection’ — meaning a proven defense against sugarbeet seed and seedling pests both below and above the ground.” ❖

THE SUGARBEET GROWER November/December 2011

The Sugarbeet Grower - Nov Dec 2011  
The Sugarbeet Grower - Nov Dec 2011  

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Sugarbeet News *Oregon's Grande Ronde Area *Michigan's Stacked' Beets *Industry's Economic Impact *Our Regular Departments