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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: History of Sugar Beet Production and Usage.

Authors
item Harveson, Robert - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
item Panella, Leonard
item Lewellen, Robert

Submitted to: Compendium of the Beet Diseases and Insects
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2007
Publication Date: May 28, 2009
Citation: Harveson, R., Panella, L.W., Lewellen, R.T. 2009. Introduction - History of Sugar Beet Production and Usage. Pages 1-2 In: Compendium of Beet Diseases and Insects, edited by R.M Harveson, L.E. Hanson, and G. L. Hein, etd. APS Press, St. Paul. MN, pp. 140.

Interpretive Summary: Beets (Beta vulgaris L.) were originally domesticated in classical times. Sugar beet is a relatively new crop, and is unique among food plants in use throughout the world in that it is a product of breeding research. Franz Karl Achard built the first sugar factory at Cunern in Poland. In the United States, the first factory built was at Northampton, Massachusetts in 1838, but it never operated after 1840. The first successful commercial production of beet sugar in the U. S. began in central California in 1870. Today 12 states and two provinces within four diverse regions are involved with sugar beet production in the North America These areas include the upper Midwest (Minnesota and North Dakota), the far west (California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington), the Great Plains (Colorado, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, and Alberta) and finally the Great Lakes (Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario). The methods of producing cultivars that are adapted to these specific geographic regions and specific production and pest issues continue to this day. These efforts are largely responsible for the continued success of the industry in North America.

Technical Abstract: Beets (Beta vulgaris L.) were originally domesticated in classical times. Early Greek and Roman texts refer to beets as a leafy pot herb, and it was not until the Middle Ages that the root was used both as a vegetable and medicinal herb. Sugar beet is a relatively new crop, and is unique among food plants in use throughout the world in that it is a product of breeding research. Most other crops have been acquired by humans with present day characteristics and uses. Franz Karl Achard built the first sugar factory at Cunern in lower Silesia (modern day Poland). During the early 1800's after supplies were cut off by the English blockade of continental Europe during the Napoleonic Wars, the demand for sugar grew throughout Europe. Between 1810 and 1815, over 79,000 acres were in production and more than 300 small factories were built in France. In the United States, the first factory built was at Northampton, Massachusetts in 1838, but it never operated after 1840. The first successful commercial production of beet sugar in the U. S. began in central California in 1870. Of the current world production of more than 130 million metric tons of sugar, about 35% comes from sugar beet and 65% from sugar cane. In the USA, about 50-55% of the domestic production of about 8.4 million metric tons is derived from sugar beet. Today 12 states and two provinces within four diverse regions are involved with sugar beet production in the North America These areas include the upper Midwest (Minnesota and North Dakota), the far west (California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington), the Great Plains (Colorado, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, and Alberta) and finally the Great Lakes (Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario). The methods of producing cultivars that are adapted to these specific geographic regions and specific production and pest issues continue to this day. These efforts are largely responsible for the continued success of the industry in North America.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014
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