One for the Record Books at Sidney Sugars
Tom Astrup, Chief Operating Officer – Sidney Sugars, Inc.
Vice President of Operations – American Crystal Sugar Company
The growers in the Sidney, Montana area recently finished up harvest. They produced a record 32.3 tons per acre of sugarbeets on 30,850 acres. We had a pretty good idea there was something special coming early on. I took this picture of a sugarbeet pulled from the middle of a field, not in October, but on July 16!
Sidney growers harvested a total of 996,000 tons. This was the most tons harvested in Sidney since the 1999 crop when they brought in 1,104,000 tons. That crop averaged just 23.0 tons per acre and was delivered on 48,000 acres. Imagine that, a similar crop on over 35% fewer acres! The increased efficiency of the growers to raise a similar sized crop while utilizing 35% less land speaks volumes for the sustainability of sugarbeet farming.
Further highlighting the acceleration in productivity; consider that in 2012, Sidney growers established a new yield record for the area of 27.9 tons per acre. The yield record was re-established in 2014 with 30.4 tons per acre. With the new 2015 record of 32.3 tons per acre, the record yield in Sidney has increased by 16% in just three years. Not only was the yield of this year’s crop a record, but sugar content was exceptional. This year’s 18.73% sugar content compares to the record of 18.88% sugar content set in 2004. Combining the yield and the sugar content, we get perhaps the truest test of productivity as measured by pounds of sugar per acre. The following chart provides a historical perspective.
Over the time period above, pounds of sugar harvested per acre have increased by an average of 250 pounds per year. Congratulations to the Sidney growers and to the Sidney Agriculture staff for helping to produce such wonderful results!
On a final note, Russ Fullmer, Sidney’s Agriculture Manager, will retire this year after 21 years with Sidney Sugars and 30 total years in the sugarbeet industry. What a way to go out!