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Weather and other delays push beet campaign into March

Weather and other delays push beet campaign into March
Workers sit on beams, which will be a roof for part of the newly built Western Sugar Factory. Construction was among some of the delays for the factory. KNEB Chabella Guzman

It has been a rocky year for Western Sugar Cooperative.

The Scottsbluff sugar factory experienced delays, as the beet harvest neared and on top of it were weather delays.

Now, with more warm weather there are concerns Western Sugar is throwing beets away and bringing in sugar to meet demands.

“Obviously the warm temperatures aren’t great,” said Rodney Perry, president and ceo of Western Sugar Cooperative. “The good thing is the beets were storing very well, prior to the weather, and we are managing it.”

Western Sugar will throw some beets away, called the rim beets along the outside, but the discarding of those beets is typical, according to Perry.

“Those (rim) beets don’t usually have a lot of sugar in them anyway, and the majority of the beets are still processing well,” he said.

Normally, Western Sugar has sliced all its beets by late February. Perry acknowledges the campaign is running behind, but that is nothing new.

“Our plan is to run into late March,” he said. “We’re planning for all the different situations, and planning to do the best we can.”

None of the beets at the Western Sugar beet dumps are going to be dumped, he added. They are just waiting to be processed.

Concerns have also been raised the cooperative is bringing in sugar to meet demands.

“This year we have not made as much white sugar, as we would have liked to make,” he said. “But, we have a lot of juice stored to make it, and we are making it right now.”

Some of the rumors, he said of the cooperative bringing in sugar from other cooperatives are not true.
The factory did receive some sugar it’s from within the cooperative the Billings, Mont. and Lovell, Wyo. plants, which are all part of the cooperative’s processing system.

Perry adds they have in fact supplied other cooperatives with white sugar this year, a process which is common for cooperatives.

While Western Sugar is wrapping up this year, the cooperative is looking forward already to good next year.

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