Oklahoma State University


Sugarbeet as a Biofuel Crop

Sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.), has the potential to be used to produce ethanol on a large scale.  It is usually grown in northern temperate areas and near sugar processing plants. A drought resistant variety with better adaptation to the tropics has been released recently; thus, could be used in many others parts of the world.

Sugarbeet, a member of the Chenopodiaceae family, is a plant whose root contains a high concentration of sucrose. It is grown commercially for sugar production.  The sugarbeet is directly related to the garden beet, beetroot, chard and fodder beet, all descended by cultivation from the sea beet.

The European Union, the United States, and Russia are the world's three largest sugarbeet producers, although only the European Union and Ukraine are significant exporters of sugar from beets. Beet sugar accounts for 30% of the world's sugar production and more than half of the sugar in the U.S.

The sugarbeet is a root crop that flourishes in temperate climates where the growing season is about five months long.  Sugarbeet is grown in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.  Beet production in the U.S. is controlled in many areas by sugar companies and acreage kept low so the price of sugar would not drop uneconomically low.


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