Sugar.The sugar industry in Kansas commenced in the early '80s with the manufacture of sugar from sorghum cane. Regarding this industry the state board of agriculture in 1884 made the following report: "Of 116,511 acres of sorghum in the state this year, but 29,515 acres, or a little over 25 per cent., were planted for the purpose of manufacturing the product into sugar and sirup. The greater proportion of the area, or 86,996 acres were sown and planted for forage. The proportion that was manufactured into sugar cannot yet be accurately determined, but will probably not exceed one-fifth of the area mentioned above as planted for the purpose of manufacture. There are three prominent sugar plants in operation in Kansas, being located at Hutchinson, Sterling and Ottawa. These works have all manufactured sugar, both last year and this. . . a sample of sugar made this year at Hutchinson . . is of good quality and shows a decided improvement on the products of a year ago. That a good quality of sugar can be made from northern cane, there is now no question; the only point to be determined is as to the ability to produce it so that it can compete in price with foreign sugar."
In his message of 1885 Gov. Martin called the attention of the legislature to the sugar industry by reporting the output of the three sugar factories for 1884, as 602,000 pounds of sugar and 155,500 gallons of sirup manufactured from 19,300 tons of sorghum cane. The quality of this sugar was said to be identical in composition with the Louisiana sugar. The act of March 5, 1887, allowed a bounty of two cents a pound upon each and every pound of sugar manufactured under certain conditions from "beets, sorghum or other sugar yielding canes and plants grown in Kansas." (See Bounties.) The following year 701,941 pounds of superior sugar and 300,000 gallons of molasses were produced with satisfactory financial results.
In 1889 the legislature passed an act encouraging the erection of sugar mills and the manufacture of sugar and sirup out of sorghum cane, authorizing townships and cities of the second and third classes to subscribe for stock in sugar factories and to vote bonds therefor. In 1890 George F. Kellogg, state sugar inspector, reported eight companies preparing to manufacture sugar that year, located at Fort Scott, Topeka, Medicine Lodge, Ness City, Attica, Liberal, Arkalon, and Conway Springs. The legislature of 1891 amended the act of 1887 and provided for a bounty of three-fourths of a cent per pound on sugar. In 1893 Mr. Kellogg reported three manufactures as claiming bountythe Medicine Lodge Sugar company, Limited; $3,648; the Parkinson Sugar company of Fort Scott, $3,606.75; and the Medicine Lodge Sugar works and Refining company, $231. The amount of sugar manufactured was 998,110 pounds of first grade and about 1,000,000 pounds of second grade.
During the next few years the sorghum cane sugar industry languished and finally died, and in its place came the beet sugar industry. Kansas first made sugar from beets in 1889. In that year and 1890 beet sugar was made quite successfully at Medicine Lodge in the factory of the Medicine Lodge Sugar works and Refining company. Henry Hintze, sugar boiler and superintendent, came to Kansas with a thoroughly practical experience in beet sugar work, especially in German methods. He obtained seed from Germany and planted 4.7 acres near the factory. The yield was 60.23 tons of cleaned beets, which produced 10,158 pounds of sugar and 380 gallons of sirup. The report to the state board of agriculture stated that a larger return would have been obtained if the factory had been equipped with suitable machinery for slicing the beets and treating the juice. In 1890 an attempt was made to secure a crop of 100 acres of beets at Medicine Lodge, but instructions were not obeyed. However, the harvest was 290 tons, from which 48,260 pounds of sugar was obtained. The beets tested 15.25 per cent. sugar contents. The company showed a willingness to put in proper machinery for making beet sugar, but it changed management and nothing was done. The sorghum sugar factory at Ness City planted beets in 1890, but the factory burned. The Topeka sorghum sugar factory reported a net profit of $11.60 per acre on a small crop of beets raised the same year. in 1890 the Kansas Agricultural College began experiments in beet sugar growing. Some seeds were imported, others procured from the United States department of Agriculture. The beets showed an unsatisfactory analysis, but the work was continued. Beets raised in other localities were analyzed and some showed a good percentage of sugar.
In 1901 provision was made by law for payment by the state of $1 per ton upon beets grown in Kansas and used for sugar manufacture. The law differed from the law of 1887 in that it paid the bounty to the grower instead of the manufacturer. Seventy growers in Kearny, Hamilton and Finney counties, harvested a total of 1,747.36 tons of beets which were bought by contract by a sugar factory at Rocky Ford, Col. The sugar content of these beets ranged from 13.3 to 22 per cent. In 1902 seventy-five growers in Finney and Kearny counties shipped 4,250 tons of beets harvested from 439 acres to the American Beet Sugar company at Rocky Ford. The bulk of this crop was raised near Lakin and Deerfield. The year 1903 was an important one and the beet crop was small, but the next year 5,000 tons were provided for in the bounty appropriation. Of this crop 1,488 tons were grown in the northwestern counties of Rawlins, Cheyenne and Decatur, the beets being shipped to Grand Island and Ames, Neb. The 1905 harvest in the Arkansas valley was 8,032 tons. The 132 growers received a bounty of 58 cents a ton.
About this time a group of Colorado capitalists made investigation of the district adjacent to Garden City, Deerfield and Lakin. As a result the United States Sugar and Land company was incorporated, 27,000 acres were purchased in Finney and Kearny counties, early in 1906 work was commenced on a factory at Garden City, to be finished in time to care for the crop of that year and to have a daily capacity for slicing 800 tons of beets. This factory is of modern, steel, concrete and brick construction, representing an investment of $800,000. The statistics for the year 1910 show 8,171 acres planted to sugar beets, which yielded 70,890 tons, with a value of $354,450.Pages 783-785 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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