Sugar beet

Sugar beet

Minnesota sugar beet growers can help educate the non-farm audience at the Minnesota State Fair by entering a few of their “best looking” beets in a special display in the Horticultural Building.

“We started this two years ago and were amazed at how little the public knows about the source of their sugar. They just didn’t realize sugar came from this big, indescribable item called a sugar beet,” said Vern Prokosch, a former beet grower in the Bird Island area.

In addition to the display of Minnesota-grown beets, the State Fair will feature educational billboards that depict the growing, processing and market distribution of this amazing crop.

Prokosch asks any beet grower who would like to “showcase” his beets, to bring 2 to 3 sugar beets with about 6 inches of top stem still attached to his farm at the west edge of Bird Island on Hwy. 212 no later than 9 a.m., Aug. 22.

“We don’t give out ribbons for the biggest beet,” said Prokosch, “but we do identify both the weight of each beet plus the name and address of each grower so State Fair attendees get an idea of where this important crop is grown. Education to the non-farm public is our primary mission.”

Minnesota farmers grow about 500,000 acres of sugar beets each year, producing about 10 million tons of beets. Nationwide about 1.3 million acres produce about 30 million tons, with a total value of about $1.3 billion. Minnesota’s top five ranking counties in sugar beets are Polk, Clay, Renville, Norman and Chippewa. Minnesota ranks No. 1 in the nation in sugar beet production followed by Idaho, North Dakota, Michigan and California.

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