This is an experimental plot of sugar beets grown under irrigation — not for sugar production — but for ethanol production. I took this picture in 2013 in late August in central North Dakota.
I see my old friend, Tom Lawrence, a classmate at South Dakota State University, is reporting on sugar beets for the Powell (Wyo.) Tribune.
Today, Tom quotes Fred Hopkins of the Penrose area, who says his 30-ton-per-acre sugar beet crop is the “best we’ve ever seen” but might be a money-loser, because of the diving price of sugar. Western Sugar Cooperative is paying prices not seen since the 1980s. The Tribune quotes Ric Rodriguez, a 1,400-acre grower and board member, who says the co-op isn’t selling much right now because of the low price.
Hopkins tells Lawrence that if the beet price is $40 a ton he’ll cover the cost of production and if it’s in the $30 per ton area he’ll have lost money.
Rodriguez tells the Tribune that if farmers have been “smart in the past, they should be OK.” “It just depends on if you took advantage of the good years we had,” Rodriguez tells the Tribune. “It’s a fluctuating market.”