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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/166

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

pounds of seed were sent out to experiment stations for distribution. The value of the government's work is shown by the rapid strides with which the industry has advanced. In 1897 there were nine factories in operation in the United States, of which four were in California. In 1900 there were thirty-six, ten of them being in Michigan, which three years earlier had none. Germany has four hundred factories and turns out an average of between four thousand and four thousand five hundred tons of sugar for each factory. The average increase per annum in the consumption of sugar in the United States between 1881 and 1899 was over sixty thousand tons. In order to meet this increase alone, fifteen factories would need to be added each year. It is thus evident that though the industry has grown so markedly, the increase in consumption is not provided for. Nearly five hundred factories would be required for our present needs, and, after those were provided, ten or fifteen should be added each year to provide for growth, if the increase in consumption keeps up at the rate of the last twenty years.

As has been stated, one of the causes of the early failure of the beet sugar industry in this country was the location of factories in unsuitable places, and one of the most important features of the governments work of late years has been the investigation of the places where beets can be grown profitably. Beets should have a sugar content of at least 12 per cent, and perhaps even 13 per cent, or 14 per cent., otherwise it will not probably pay to erect a factory. This is not because at present prices a factory using beets of 12 per cent, sugar could not pay, but because in many parts of the country a considerably higher percentage is obtainable, and, in view of competition, the most favorable locations should be chosen. In the examination made by the Department of Agriculture of beets sent in during the year 1897, '98 and '99 from thirty-nine states and territories, it appeared that Arkansas was least suited for beet culture, giving an average of a little over seven per cent, of sugar. On the other hand, Nevada showed an average of eighteen per cent, of sugar in the samples examined.

A matter which is almost, if not quite, as important as the percentage of sugar is its purity and in this respect Nevada was almost at the top of the list, the 'coefficient of purity' being 83.8. The coefficient of purity means the percentage of sugar in the total solids dissolved in the juice. For example, if one hundred pounds of beets yield a juice containing fifteen pounds of solid matter dissolved in it, twelve pounds of which is sugar and the remaining three something else, the sugar content is said to be 12 per cent, with a coefficient of purity 80. Impurity keeps part of the sugar from crystallizing and so prevents its recovery in the factory and hence a high coefficient of purity is exceedingly important.

A very important factor in the cultivation of beets is the tempera-