SIDNEY - In states like Montana, sugar is more than just a sweetener you put in your favorite recipes. It’s a huge economic driver for the state’s number one industry -agriculture.
This year, Montana sugar growers are expected to harvest around 42,400 acres of sugar beets statewide. That’s down from last year’s 45,600 but growers are still expected to produce over 1.3 million tons of sugar.
“The last root samples that Sidney Sugars came out with show an estimated crop of nearly 32 tons per acre which is pretty close to last year’s record crop of a little over 33 tons,” said Russell Steinbeisser, a sugar grower along the lower Yellowstone Valley near Sidney.
Like with other commodities, research and technology are helping sugar growers plow through challenges like weeds, which can impact overall yield and sugar content.
Steinbeisser also has a message for consumers, “sugar is a very healthy product. If you eat too much of anything, it’s not good for you.”
The Western Sugar Cooperative harvest is also in full swing in southern Montana and northern Wyoming. It’s an important reminder for motorists to watch out for slow-moving machinery and trucks on our region's roadways.