Nonsugar Sugar Beet Promo Prompts Interest
by Mikkel Pates (AgWeek) “Industrial beets” is now the preferred moniker for beets being promoted for growing outside the Red River Valley to make things such as industrial sugar components or “green” ethanol, but not sugar.
For the past five years, Green Vision, Heartland Renewable Energy of Muscatine, Iowa, and North Dakota State University have been working to prove the beets can be grown elsewhere in the region. Now they’re anxious to hear whether farmers are willing to grow them, at what cost, and whether the farmers would prefer to grow for a partnering company or own a processing plant themselves.
The goal is to increase farm income by including beets in rotations in North Dakota, in a plant that theoretically could be built to accept beets in 2016 or 2017. Farmers attending the meeting heard the company is looking at two markets — biochemicals and biofuels.
Agronomic research has shown good yields, drought tolerance and saline soil adaptability.
Some farmers interested in the crop have been concerned about labor — especially needing trucks and drivers for the harvest. They’re also concerned about price and must decide whether the crop needs to net as much or more than corn and competing crops. One possibility would be to peg the price of beets to corn
Farmers would have to be careful to avoid carryover effects of Atrazine and Pursuit herbicide and other products important to corn and soybean producers. Farmers planning to become involved would need to start planning to withdraw sensitive chemicals three years before trying to grow beets. Typically, beets follow small grains. If they follow soybeans, the added nitrogen can lead to larger beets with less sugar content. READ MORE