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Modern record for American Crystal

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- American Crystal Sugar Co.'s shareholders were told recently that this year's crop is projected to bring them average payments of $57 per ton.

That's a modern record, bested only by a payment jacked up more than 30 years ago by a run-up on sugar prices in the mid-1970s in the early days of the Moorhead-based cooperative, said Jeff Schweitzer, American Crystal spokesman in Moorhead. Last year's crop ended up bringing a payment of $52.87 a ton and only a few times have the payments gone north of $50; historically they have been near $45.

The high payment will join a record yield of beets this year, an average of 26.3 tons per acre for the 415,000 harvested. It also means record gross revenue for the co-op's 2,768 shareholders, which include the 825 "farm-units" who do the actual planting and harvesting.

It also means the average shareholder, with 150 acres worth of shares, will gross $225,000. The total payments for this season's beets would add up to $622 million in gross crop revenue to the shareholders.

Reporting by Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald.