Sugar Beet Harvest Still Looking Strong Despite Weather Setbacks

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ALBERTA - After being shut down for a week by snow and frost, the southern Alberta sugar beet harvest is back on in full force.

"When we are harvesting beets we really need to be cognizant of the frost level, and as long as we had snow cover, the frost didn't get into the ground or into the beets near as much, but as soon as we lost that snow cover it did affect the beets, so we had to wait until all the weather warmed up and frost came out," explained Melody Garner-Skiba, executive director of the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers.

She says that despite the setback, they are still on pace for a successful harvest.

"Prior to the frost shutting us down we were actually ahead of the schedule, in the sense that we had close to 50-per cent of our harvest in, so that put us in really good shape with a really good sugar content," stated Garner-Skiba. "This frost means that our beets won't have picked up as much sugar in the last week as we would have liked, but we are still in good shape with good sugar content and good tonnage."

The shutdown does mean the harvest will likely continue into November, instead of wrapping up as it generally does at the end of October.

For that reason, Garner-Skiba reminded motorists to use extra caution in rural areas, as farmers are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get their beets to a processing facility. That means large trucks and tractors will be on local roads at all hours for the next few weeks.

Garner-Skiba then took some time to discuss just how unique the local sugar beet industry is.

"The really cool thing that all southern Albertans should be proud of, and Albertans and actually Canadians in general, is southern Alberta is home to the only Canadian domestic sugar that is not only grown, but produced in Canada.

"If you want to support your local sugar beet farmers and your local processor, you want to look for Rogers Sugar, because it is the only sugar that is grown, processed and refined here in Alberta and in Canada, it's truly Alberta sugar," continued Garner-Skiba. "I would really encourage people, when you're starting to think about baking and your cooking, look for that Rogers Sugar brand with the product code, it'll start with 22. If it has 22 as part of that code, it means it was locally grown and produced here in southern Alberta, so make that your purchasing choice."