Red Beet’s Cousin
Sugarbeets are a root like a carrot or a potato. The sugarbeet is a cousin to the red garden beet, though sugarbeets are white and much larger. You also won’t find sugarbeets in the produce section of the grocery store. The true value of a sugarbeet is, you guessed it, the sugar!
A fully grown sugarbeet is about a foot long, weighs three to five pounds, and contains about 18 percent sucrose (sugar) in its root. Amazingly, one sugarbeet can produce an entire cup of sugar!
Sugar is found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural crops, but occurs at greater levels in sugarbeets and sugarcane. The sugar extracted from a sugarbeet can become several types, including pure white sugar and brown sugar.
Sugarbeets flourish in temperate climates where the growing season is about five months long. Sugarbeets are typically planted in March and April and harvested in September and October.
Our region grows 180,000 acres of sugarbeets in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, accounting for 20 percent of sugarbeet production in the country.
Nationally, sugarbeets are grown on 1.2 million acres in 11 states and are refined into sugar at 22 farmer-owned facilities in those regions. While most Americans might think of sugarcane as the primary sweetener in their morning coffee, beet sugar accounts for 55 percent of U.S-produced sugar!