Here’s a little tidbit I came across when I was visiting family back in New York. The New York State Thruway Authority is using sugar beet juice as a de-icing solution. Apparently, sugar beet juice boosts the de-icing power of road salt.
The Thruway’s Syracuse Division launched a pilot program this winter to test the effectiveness of sugar beet juice mixed with liquid brine and salt, according to a story in the Oneida Daily Dispatch. The Albany area experimented with the mixture last winter with success, according to the story.
What does this have to do with Idaho?
Idaho just happens to be the No. 2 producer of sugar beets in the country, accounting for 19 percent of the total U.S. production, according to the 2009 numbers from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. There were 163,000 harvested acres of sugar beets in Idaho in 2009, producing a total value of $235 million.
And in case you’ve never noticed those trucks carrying what looks like potatoes on steroids, those are sugar beets, and our local farmers in Kuna and Melba produce a lot of them.
An increase in the demand for sugar beets could be a huge boon to Idaho agriculture and to the local economy.