American Crystal Sugar Cooperative is enjoying one of its sweetest years ever.
The Moorhead-based cooperative, which harvested a bumper crop this fall, held its annual meeting Thursday in Fargo.
"The 2006 crop which we finished harvesting in late October was outstanding," said James Horvath, president and chief executive officer. "Over 25 tons per acre were harvested, exceeding our previous record by13 percent."
Abundant subsoil moisture helped the crop thrive, he said.
The crop was so big that American Crystal, for the first time, didn't harvest all the sugar beets suitable for harvest.
Eight percent, or about 40,000 acres,wasn't harvested.
Initially, there was "an emotional uprising" by some Crystal Sugar shareholders opposed to not harvesting the acres, Horvath said.
But growers accepted the decision once they understood American Crystal wouldn't be able to process all the beets, he said.
The crop harvested this fall will be processed this winter and will be reflected in the fiscal year that ends Aug. 31, 2007.
Crystal Sugar's fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2006, suffered from a smaller-than-average 2005 crop, but was helped by above-average prices and sugar content.
As result, American Crystal growers were paid an average of $50.25 per ton of beets, the second-highest rate in company history, Horvath said.
American Crystal in fiscal year 2006 had net revenue of 1 billion, up from $965 million the previous year.
Sugar prices have dropped in the past year, but the value of the additional beets harvested this fall should more than offset the lower prices, Horvath said.
American Crystal officials were, on balance, pleased with the results of the November congressional election, said David Kragnes, a Felton, Minn., farmer and American Crystal chairman.
"For the most part, ag and sugar did well in this election," he said.
Cooperative officials were happy with the election of Amy Klobuchar to the U.S. Senate from Minnesota.
Klobuchar spoke briefly Thursday to cooperative members.
The Democrat said she's committed to renewable fuels, disaster aid for farmers and trade deals that protect the interests of U.S. farmers.
American Crystal has about 2,900 shareholder/members, 1,100 full-time employees and about 1,000 harvest employees.
Wahpeton, N.D.-based Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative, the region's other sugar beet cooperative, held its annual meeting Tuesday in Fargo.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530