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Crystal beet payments to be down

MOORHEAD, Minn. - American Crystal Sugar Co. says profits from this fall's sugar beet harvest in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota will not be as sweet as last year's.

Officials cite bad weather during the growing season. This year's crop averaged 22 tons per acre, down from 25.4 tons the previous year, with lower-than-average sugar content of 16.7 percent, down from 17.6 percent.

President and CEO David Berg says a short 2009 growing season and an early October freeze retarded sugar development, resulting in the second-lowest sugar content in 25 years.

Berg says Crystal growers are expected to bank only about $40 per ton for sugar beets harvested this fall. The company's 3,000 shareholders earned $51.58 per ton from their 2008 crop.

American Crystal operates Minnesota processing plants in Moorhead, East Grand Forks and Crookston; North Dakota plants in Hillsboro and Drayton; and a plant in Sidney, Mont.