Trucks unload sugar beets as the annual processing campaign gets underway at the Western Sugar Cooperative in September.
LARRY MAYER, Billings Gazette
Montana sugar refiners expect to wrap up business in January, following a 2022 sugar beet season that dished out a few climate jawbreakers to farmers.
Cold temperatures and the late spring snow kept Yellowstone Valley farmers out of the field for weeks during the planting season, putting the crop behind schedule. The same late snowfall banked up abnormally high snow levels in the Absaroka Range, which resulted in massive flooding in May and June.
It wasn’t until fall that timely rains brought the crop to a good finish. Similarly in Eastern Montana crusty spring conditions meant beets got off to a rough start, but the late rebound from rainfall wasn’t to be had.
Sugar beets are a $100 million a year business in Montana with factories in Billings and Sidney making sugar from about 45,000 acres of beets.
“We actually delayed harvest a little bit, about five, six days, just because we knew the crop was a little further behind,” said