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Sugar beet harvest underway and market looks good

The early run of sugar beets is underway at both the Scottsbluff and Torrington, Wyo., Western Sugar plants and the regular harvest will begin Oct. 6.

“We’ve purchased just over 100,000 tons of beets and we are averaging 15.88 sugar,” said Jerry Darnell, vice president of ag for the southern region of Western Sugar. “And the sugar has been rising daily.”

The projected final for the crop should average 18 percent sugar, Darnell said.

He added not only is the harvest looking good, but the price of sugar is up from last year.

Jack Roney, chief economist for American Sugar Alliance agrees with Darnell.

“This year’s harvest is shaping up to be occurring at one of the best times for sugar prices,” Roney said. “In the last several years the U.S. refined sugar prices have been depressed, because Mexico was dumping an inordinate amount of sugar on the U.S. market.”

In July the U.S. and Mexico, signed a finalized amendment to the Countervailing Duty Suspension agreement on sugar from Mexico, to put an end to the sugar dumping.

“We’ve seen prices improve from 28-29 cents per pound to current pricing of 32-33 cents a pound,” Roney said. “That’s a significant change, we’re optimistic it could improve a bit and we’re hoping it will.”

Another event, which could affect the sugar market is Hurricane Irma.

“Hurricane Irma was bad for sugar cane farmers and it could be weeks before they know what the damage is in their fields,” Roney said.

While, the hurricane could affect the market, consumers shouldn’t be worried about an increase at the store.

“If our crops are short, the U.S. will be able to import more sugar from Mexico or our traditional quota holders to see that we have a stable, steady and high quality supply for our American consumers,” he said.

The American Sugar Alliance is confident as long as the U.S. and Mexican government enforce their agreements there will be a much more certain outlook in the sugar market.


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