MONITOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A solid sugar beet crop in Michigan is expected this year following favorable summer growing conditions, industry officials said.
Michigan Sugar Co. on Thursday kicks off the harvest campaign, with delivery expected to ramp up in October, The Bay City Times reported (http://bit.ly/1o0AWSQ ). Growers bringing in sugar beets currently can get an incentive payment for making early delivery.
Paul Pfenninger, vice president for agriculture at the grower-owned cooperative, said it was a "very challenging planting season, but I think it's going to be a very rewarding harvest season." Michigan Sugar, which is based in Bay County's Monitor Township, has been producing sugar for more than a century.
Last year, Michigan Sugar had 4.17 million tons of sugar beets. This year, the estimated yield is 4.48 million tons.
Michigan Sugar has more than 1,200 shareholders and more than 900 growers producing an acre or more of beets in 20 Michigan counties and parts of Canada. Its products are sold in wholesale and retail quantities under the Pioneer Sugar and Big Chief Sugar brands.
This year's crop got off to a rough start with cold temperatures and wet fields. In some cases, growers waited weeks beyond the normal start time of early April to plant seeds. Favorable summer weather and experienced growers are expected to help the harvest.
"We're very excited about the crop we have," Pfenninger said. "Growers have done a fantastic job."
Mike Schmidt, co-owner of Schmidt Farms in Bay County's Kawkawlin Township, is among those taking advantage of the early delivery incentive. He started harvesting and loading up beets on Wednesday evening to prepare for early delivery Thursday.
"We think we have an excellent crop right now. We know we do. We started out real late. We were probably three weeks to a month late planting," he said.
Information from: The Bay City Times, http://www.mlive.com/bay-city