Ouch. The recent power outages at American Crystal Sugar Co.’s Hillsboro factory caused a whopping 12 days of of production time for the plant — 2 days of production time over the company’s entire valley production, officials of the company say. The "fail-safe failed," said David Berg, the Moorhead-based co-op’s vice president of operations and chief operations officer. The plant has a backup turbine, but the thing shut itself down, when it tried to speed up to dump power into the grid. A chain reaction of events led to production people properly shutting the plant down to avoid long-term damage. But it hurt.
The outage could have a particularly large effect this year, because Crystal’s huge crop was already projected for a processing campaign into the end of May — or more. When I asked a company wag earlier in the year just how far into May the processing would go, he joked — "May 38th." So, I suppose now the projection is May 40th?
Kidding aside, Crystal’s prospects hang on the weather through April and May.
Personally, for their sake, and the sake of the shareholder-growers, I hope the Red River Valley has a cold couple of months. It’s tough to be planting beets before the processing season ends. And I don’t like to eat borscht or see anyone else eat it — hot or cold.