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Colorado Sugar Beet History


Early in Colorado's history when gold and silver were still the source of money in the mountains, sugarbeets were the monetary exchange in Longmont and were referred to as "white gold".  The vast expanse of barren Colorado plains were considered a desert, even described by editors as a land of starvation.  As it turns out, there are only a few places in the world perfectly suited for the sugar beet horticulture.  Sugar beets require a specific balance of light, minerals, and water in order to produce a minimum of 12% sugar content by mass, and this balance must follow a specific seasonal schedule.  The plains along the Front Range of Colorado had this balance unlike anywhere else in the world.  In fact, the balance was so perfect that some areas featured an alarming 17% sugar content by mass.  By 1903 capitalists could see the value of the sugar beet and invested in the factory in Longmont at a cost of one million dollars to construct which was an astronomical sum for any project in the early 1900's.  After only two years the Great Western Sugar Company took over the Longmont factory and by 1920, Sugar was Colorado's mainstay.

Today the sugar beet accounts for 30% of the world's sugar production.  It is also continues to show its value in other uses ranging from alcohol, pharmaceuticals and bakers yeast industries, for livestock feed, cereals, as well as in all natural products such as Burt's Bees shampoos.


The Stromquist Residence - set amongst the historic sugarbeet fields of the Colorado Plains.

Catherine Scott
Sugarbeet Architects
Ph: 303.359.1134