Farm Progress

The quality of the beet that goes into the factories not only affects factory efficiency, but also profitability

October 8, 2012

2 Min Read

Sugarbeet companies from around the world have invested millions of dollars in research to determine what it takes to produce high quality sugarbeets. The quality of the beet that goes into the factories not only affects factory efficiency, but also profitability. Sugar factories currently have a limited amount of (capacity) tons that can be processed in a day or in the length of campaign. Higher quality beets improve factory efficiency in sugar produced and reduce the amount of energy it takes to produce a pound of sugar.

Increasing sugarbeet purity normally means better sugar content. This will improve extraction because of less impurities or non-sugars, resulting in less lime usage in the purification process which is the second highest operating expense cost per ton. This also will reduce chemicals utilized in the purification process. All impurities passing through the process will take sugar with them to molasses. Growers can reduce impurities by not over applying nitrogen, reducing root and foliar disease levels and by doing a good job topping.

According to David Noble, Vice President of Operations for Michigan Sugar Company, producing high sugar and high quality beets maximizes the through put in terms of increasing the amount of sugar per day put into to the silo. Low impurities make processing easier by improving purification, filtration and lower color juices. Low impurities mean fewer loads on the sugar end for the second and third boiling. Less color equals less washing of white sugar, which helps yield and maximizes sugar end capacity. High percent sugar means more load and “strain” on the white pans; this is a good problem to have.

Research conducted by Michigan Sugar Company and Michigan State University has shown that the impact from improving quality by 1 percent for a grower is estimated to gain about 15 pounds of sugar per ton. This will improve grower payment by about $4.50 per ton based on a $75 per ton average payment. Producing high quality beets will require producers to fine-tune their management skills. Maximizing recoverable sugar requires that all factors be addressed as a package. Falling short on any one factor can have a large impact on our goal of 19 percent average sugar.

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