Beet Poetry: The Story of Beet Sugar

When Michigan’s 13 beet sugar factories finish their annual ten-week slicing season this week, more than 325,000,000 pounds of bagged white sugar will be ready for consumption from the 1940 crop.

It’s big business in Michigan, which ranks third in the nation, just behind California and Colorado. Sunday Graphic obtained this picture story of the industry at the Monitor Sugar Co. plant at Bay City.

The big, modern Monitor plant, which can slice 2200 tons of beets in 24 hours, is the largest factory east of the Mississippi River. It takes but 13 hours for completion of the intricate process from beet to pure white sugar.

Other Michigan beet sugar plants closing the hectic, non-stop refining seasons soon are: The Holland and St. Louis plants of the Lake Shore Sugar Co.; the Saginaw, Alma, Caro, Sebewaing, Lansing, and Croswell factories of the Michigan Sugar Co.; the Blissfield plant of the Great Lakes Sugar Co.: the Mt. Pleasant unit of the Isabella Sugar Co.; the Mt Clemens plant of the Southeastern Sugar Co., and the Menominee branch of the Superior Sugar Co.

The 12 Lower Peninsula factories sacked 299,363,900 pounds of sugar during a 71-day slicing season in 1939. Estimates indicate a slight increase for this year. In 1939 a total of 14,603 farmers planted 132,363 acres and harvested 1,088,296 tons of beets. They Share on a 50-50 basis with the manufacturers in the millions of dollars of income annually received from the sale of beet sugar and its by-products, molasses and dried pulp cattle feed. The two groups work together through the Farmers and Manufacturers Beet Sugar Association.

One truism of the industry is that, “Once sugar gets into your blood, you can’t get out of the game.” The veteran employees at the Monitor plant bear this out.

“Here’s the Story of Beet Sugar”-Detroit Times 1940

In 1939 a total of 14,603 farmers planted 132,363 acres and harvested 1,088,296 tons of beets.

Compared to the record breaking 2021 harvest of 5,508,000 tons of beets on 162,000 acres, by 900 farmers. My, how far innovation has come.

Like all the different waterways and railways sugar has traveled to get to your sweet tooth, so has coffee traveled the world to lead you to LoLoBee’s, with friends, for a cup of joe.

You can read more about the record breaking 2021 beets harvest at

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