New York used to be the largest grower of beets in the nation, participants in today's Decision Makers Agricultural Tour, learned while visiting a processing facility in Byron.
Now we're number two behind Michigan, but most of the beets grown in the state that puts us in that position are grown in Genesee County.
As part of the tour, Mark Dewey, of Dewey Farms, talked about his company's processing facility and the beet industry.
The facility processes beets from 600 acres of farmland in the area, on five farms in Genesee County and two in Livingston County. There are no beets grown in New York outside of those counties.
This was the 28th annual ag tour sponsored by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.
Most of the beets processed in Byron are handled for a U.K.-based company called Love Beets.
Love Beets initially started selling beets in the United States by shipping them from Europe to a processing plant in New Jersey. When they learned about the Byron plant, which meets their mission-critical need for sorting by size, the company contracted with Dewey.
The plant processes beets year around. When the local growing season end here in the fall, beets are trucked in from the south through the winter. Dewey said they're working on getting more beets from Mexico for the spring and summer months.
Beets are pickled or canned or turned into juice. Some beets are organic. Others meet the dietary demands of Kosher.
Visitors were able to sample a variety of beet products, including a beet lemonade (really, it's good) that's sold at Tops.
The tour also included a stop by Oxbo International in Byron, where farm equipment is manufactured, and Vegetal, which grows sedum, a cactus-like plant that can be grown on roofs to help reduce energy costs (prior coverage).
NOTE: Oxbo asked that we not publish photos from inside the facility. First three photos are of Dewey Farms and below those is one of Christian Yunker, from CY Farms, which hosts Vegetal, at the Vegetal facility on Bank Street Road, Batavia.
UPDATE: Last photo is of John Easton, Oxbo employee, conducting a tour of the plant. Published with permission.