A drive up M-25 or through any rural area of the thumb will likely find the sugar beet harvest in full swing. This week Michigan Sugar’s four factories began accepting sugar beets. One of their plants, located in Croswell, is entering the final phases of a five year, $65-million dollar capital investment. Jim Ruhlman, Executive Vice President with Michigan Sugar, says it’s all about increasing capacity. “Typically they have a about 3,800 to 4,000 ton slice rate,” said Ruhlman. “This year we expect them (Croswell) to hit that 5,000 mark.” Ruhlman says the 117 year old Croswell plant will remain a fixture in the Sanilac County community for years to come.
With the harvest now underway, expect to see additional trucks on the roads hauling beets from farms to the plant. Many of those trucks cross the Blue Water Bridge, as Michigan Sugar farmers grow about 10,000 acres of beets in Ontario. Michigan Sugar is a grower-owned cooperative, meaning sugar beet producers own shares in the company. With an annual output of over 1-billion pounds, it is the third largest beet sugar producer in the United States.