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Sugar Beets

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A mountain of sugar beets piled on the ground outside the Western Sugar plant in Fort Morgan, Colorado, Oct. 5, 2023.
Sugar beets

A century ago, Colorado’s economy depended upon the sugar beet, a white root vegetable related to red table beets.

At the peak of Colorado's sugar rush, as many as twenty-four refineries around the state beat the beets into pure sucrose and helped reduce the country’s dependence on foreign sugar cane. Even the beet byproducts proved valuable.  Leftover beet pulp fattened livestock. In Greeley and Eaton, beet syrup sprayed onto dirt streets made a surface as hard as asphalt. Some Coloradans dried and rolled sugar beet leaves for foul-smelling cigars. Today, only Fort Morgan’s sugar refinery remains in operation, half a century after Americans embraced high fructose corn syrup as their sweetener of choice.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.