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Drayton Sugar Beets


The American Crystal Sugar Company began operating North Dakota’s first refinery – located near Drayton – on this date in 1965. Farmers in the Red River Valley experimented with sugar beets as far back as the 1870s, but without a processing plant nearby, beets proved a poor venture.

Valley farmers gave sugar beets another try during the agricultural depression following World War I. In 1918, valley sugar beets were sent to a small factory in southern MN, where the crop proved superior to most. Production increased, and people around Grand Forks began plans for building a local processing plant. Meanwhile, a company called American Beet Sugar started buying up Midwest sugar operations, and when the East Grand Forks processing plant opened in 1926, it became American Beet Sugar’s newest property. The company was later renamed American Crystal Sugar Company.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm