Growers seek new uses for beets

Alberta sugar beet growers continue to seek ways to sweeten the future for the crop.

The beets contracted by Lantic and processed at the sugar factory in Taber, Alta., are the only major outlet for the crop now, but the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers association is looking for other options to potentially expand acres and incomes.

Last year, a committee explored ethanol production.

“We sent a crate of sugar beets to a large gas company in the (United) States for testing for potential ethanol,” the committee said in its report to the annual growers meeting.

“At this point they are reviewing the data and working to find out if it makes sense to build an ethanol plant in North America using sugar beets and other plants as feed stock.”

Other options include plant-based proteins. The Manitoba Food Processing Centre was given sugar beet leaves to test for protein content and extraction last year. Results are pending.

Sugar beets might also be a source of formic acid and could potentially be used as feed for protein production from insects.

Beet juice has been used in the past as an effective road de-icer in some regions and the committee is exploring options for wider use of the product in Canada.

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