Michigan sugarbeet harvest underway, demand remains strong

The Michigan Sugar Company has started one of its earliest harvest of sugarbeets.

Executive Vice President Jim Ruhlman tells Brownfield from replanting, extreme flooding, and extreme heat, it’s surprising how healthy the crop has been.

“We had fields that had six inches of water on them and today are yielding 22-ton beets so its pretty remarkable what has gone on.”

This year, growers replanted 30,000 acres of beets, almost 20 percent of expected production, after freeze events in April and Ruhlman says crops pulled through summer heat with nearly 15 days above 90 degrees with no rain.

Ruhlman says there was record demand for sugar in March and it has remained strong throughout the summer because of increased retail sales during the pandemic.

“I don’t know how many pantries are full of sugar right now, but I know we’re selling it like hotcakes.”

He tells Brownfield Michigan Sugar does receive a premium for retail sales which are expected to stay strong through December and be passed onto growers.

Ruhlman says he’s also very proud of the company’s employees for adapting to changes brought on by COVID-19 uncertainty.

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