SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. — Early harvest of sugar beets in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming has begun.

Western Sugar plants in Scottsbluff and Torrington, Wyoming, have begun accepting this year’s early harvest, Scottsbluff radio station KNEB reports.

Western Sugar has bought over 100,000 tons of beets averaging nearly 16 percent sugar content, said Jerry Darnell, vice president of ag for the southern region of Western Sugar.

“And the sugar has been rising daily,” he said.

American Sugar Alliance chief economist Jack Roney said this year’s harvest is occurring at one of the best times for sugar prices, following an agreement in July between the U.S. and Mexico intended to keep Mexican sugar from flooding the U.S. market. In turn, prices have increased from 28- to 29-cents a pound to 32- to 33-cents a pound.

“That’s a significant change,” Roney said. “We’re optimistic it could improve a bit, and we’re hoping it will.”

The sugar market could also be affected by damaging hurricanes this year in the Caribbean, he said.

“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.

Consumers shouldn’t be worried about an increase at the store, he said.

“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 regular sugar beet harvest is set to begin Oct. 6..


Information from: KNEB-AM, http://www.kneb.com