How Sugar Could Make a Comeback in Northern Colorado

November 30 2009, 10:09 AM

396px-SugarBeetFarmers around semi-rural Wellington, north of Fort Collins, are celebrating the largest crop of sugar beets in recent memory this year, as a combination of perfect weather conditions and genetically modified seeds packed a one-two punch. "This is the biggest crop we've ever had by far," farmer Richard Seaworth tells the Fort Collins Coloradoan. "And it comes at a time when sugar prices are high, which is always a good thing." Demand for U.S.-made sugar is up significantly after a cyclone wiped out sugar-cane crops in India this year. Sugar beets have been part of life in Northern Colorado, where processing plants once dotted the region, for more than a century. But the Colorado industry has been in a long, slow decline, and Fort Morgan claims the last operational sugar factory out of the original 14 Great Western Sugar plants. What's left of the old industry in some places are abandoned factories that have left a foul smell in the air and lime dust blowing into towns, writes the Fort Morgan Times. Some land could be redeveloped by other industries, but the costs of cleanup are high, impeding progress.