Have you ever thought about where sugar comes from? If you think it comes from the grocery store, you’re right, but before it’s on the grocery shelves, it’s in plants that are grown on farms across the United States.

In the U.S., sugar beets and sugar cane are grown in 14 states. Our diverse climate allows sugar farmers to grow sugar cane in some regions, while other areas provide the perfect conditions for growing sugar beets.

Sugar beets are a root crop, and they typically flourish in places where the temperatures are generally cooler. Farmers in Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming plant the seeds when things are warming up in the spring and harvest the mature sugar beets in the fall, before the temperatures drop too low. In California, sugar beets are grown over the mild winter and harvested in the spring.

Sugar cane, on the other hand, is a tropical grass and is grown around the world in a region near the equator known as the tropical belt. A tropical climate is warm and has year-round temperate weather. The temperatures rarely dip below freezing. Three states in the U.S. grow sugar cane: Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Additionally, raw sugar (both domestic and imported) is refined in California, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan and New York.

U.S. farmers produce a lot of sugar (the sixth largest yield in the world), but many other countries produce real sugar, too. The largest producers of sugar from sugar beets are the European Union, Russia, U.S. and Turkey. The countries that produce the most sugar from sugar cane are Brazil, India, Thailand and China.

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