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Montana Ag Network: University research important for sugar beet growers

Posted at 8:15 AM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 12:42:09-05

BILLINGS - This past week the Montana and Wyoming Malt Barley and Sugarbeet Symposium was held in Billings. And like other segments of American agriculture, barley and sugar beet farmers look forward to hearing about the latest research and technology available to help address disease issues for healthier crops which increases overall production and profitability.

“MSU and other land grant universities have done a tremendous job in addressing some of these problems with research-based experiments or experiments that will provide this information that growers can use,” said MSU Extension Row Crop Pathologist Oscar Perez-Hernandez. “It's not merely an observation, but it's research-based. So I feel that universities are key and what plant pathologists for sugar beets, potatoes, and other crops field crops have done in terms of understanding the importance of disease and how diseases affect crops and yields. It has been key.”

For growers like Ric Rodriguez from Powell, Wyo., the symposium has been instrumental in helping them thru both the challenges and opportunities of the sugar industry.

“You can go back 10 or 15 years with just the Roundup Ready beets when that technology came on,” said Rodriguez. “It was a huge game-changer for the beet industry. And now we have started looking at sustainability. We have customers for our companies that want to know these kinds of things. So these kinds of meetings are good to get that information out to educate our own.”

Symposiums like this are also important for consumers, whether they know it or not.

“A lot of people, especially in urban environments, they have little understanding of where their food...comes from,” said Perez-Hernandez. “So what we do really plays an important role in what we eat. We can get rid of our cell phone, we can get rid of our television, get rid of a vehicle, but we can't skip eating. Food production is essential.”

There are 10,000 family farmers in all 11-sugar beet-producing states (California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming).