Sugar beet crop in danger of rot if warm weather persists - WNEM TV 5

Sugar beet crop in danger of rot if warm weather persists

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In a normal year, 5 million pounds of sugar beets would be a good thing. But the recent stretch of warm weather and rain is attacking piles at Michigan Sugar.

"We'd like to see cool weather so that the temperatures are more in the range in the forties and thirties," said Ray Van Driessche.

Van Driessche is a company spokesman and said there's a race against time to process the massive yield before it's too late.

"We're concerned. We want to make sure that we can get every beet sliced that we can," Van Driessche said.

Back in 2005, another very warm year, the company lost $25 million in rotted sugar beets. Since then they've invested millions in funds in the form of a ventilation system aimed at protecting their crop.

"To try and make sure that we can keep these piles cool. We also have now added a hoop building where we actually have about forty-five thousand tons inside of a building which is protected from the sun and from warm rain," Van Driessche said.

They also have planes equipped with infrared cameras flying above to detect hot spots in the beets. Van Driessche said at this point, the beets are still in good shape.

But if temperatures don't start dropping soon, Van Driessche said the cost of losing beets for his company will rise.

"It's going to be a challenge because they're just not going to keep as well that's all there is to it," Van Driessche said.

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