Montana Growers Hit By Frost

Published online: Oct 23, 2000
Growers take over factory operations at Sydney, MT, plant.

Growers shipping to the Holly Sugar Corporation factory in Sydney, MT, have recently taken over factory operations because of low temperatures and possible frost damage in early October.

Terry Cayko, vice president of the Montana-Dakota Beet Growers Association, says growers are paying all expenses but are receiving 100 percent of both sugar and by-products. He explains the company sought not to take risks with possible storage problems in the frozen crop.

Cayko says temperatures dropped to the teens Oct. 5 and held there for three days until dropping into the single digits Oct. 8. They then jumped to the mid-20s Oct. 9. He says growers had harvested about 40 percent of the crop as of Oct. 4.

But the damage may not be as extensive as growers feared. Cayko explains the beets look good. They are processing the portion of the crop harvested after Oct. 5 before those harvested prior to that date. He says the average yield is around 22.5 tons per acre with a sugar rate at around 18.4 percent. Cayko says the factory was recovering over 19 percent sugar from beets dug before the frost.

Cayko says it will take the factory about 90 days to slice the frozen beets. He says processing should go well as long as temperatures stay below 25 degrees during November, December and January when they are stored.