Every year, America’s farmers do something incredible: they nurture a small seed or sprout until harvest in order to provide all of us with an affordable supply of food.
For sugarbeet growers, a sugarbeet seed is not only the starting point for the production of sugar, but is also an important part of sugar’s sustainability story.
Idaho sugarbeet grower Liz Bingham knows the immense power that a tiny sugarbeet seed holds.
Originally from Wisconsin, Liz now farms alongside her husband Cody on their family farm in south central Idaho. As a farmer, and a mom of four, she is passionate about creating a more sustainable future.
The introduction of bioengineered sugarbeets has helped the Binghams produce a sustainable, safe, affordable and reliable crop by giving them a tool to reduce weeds while using less herbicides.
“[The sugarbeet] is no longer competing for sunlight from weeds, and also space and water, so the beet is growing in just about as ideal of conditions as we can get for the soil that we have,” Liz said.
For the Bingham family – and sugarbeet growers across the country – bioengineered sugarbeet seeds are an incredible advancement. And indispensable to their farming operation.
“If you were to now go to a farmer that has sugarbeets on their farm and say ‘Look, we are going to now give you only conventional beets and go back to the old system,’ it would be the equivalent of taking a smartphone out of our hands and handing us a rotary phone,” Liz explained.
The development of sugarbeet seeds takes an immense amount of technology, hard work and time. For beet seed companies, developing a new, viable variety of sugarbeet seed can take up to a decade.
Seed companies take desired traits from existing seeds to improve the sugarbeet seeds for today’s environment. The goal is better plant performance, higher yields of sugar and increased efficiency.
“Humans have always done this. We’ve taken what we’ve found available to us and we’ve adopted it to use to further our survivability and increase the productivity of the crops that we use,” said Mark Schmidt, Vice President of Sales at KWS Seeds. “That’s enabled us to thrive on our planet.”
For seed companies, researchers and farmers, science holds the answers to a more sustainable future.
From a tiny seed to the sugar on your table, we are thankful for the sugar farmers, workers and researchers who make producing #SugarSustainably possible.