FARGO, N.D. — Sugarbeet Grower Magazine and its editor Mike Spieker have joined Agweek.
Sugarbeet Grower Magazine, started in 1963, has been part of Forum Communications Printing since 1999. Spieker, the magazine's third editor, joined that publication in 2016.
Sugarbeet Grower became part of Agweek, the agriculture division of Forum Communications Co., in December and will continue to be produced and printed six times annually to its national subscriber base. Spieker will continue to serve as that publication's editor while also branching out into a role as an Agweek multimedia journalist, based in Fargo.
Spieker always felt a connection to agriculture. His grandfather farmed in the area of Horace, N.D., before Spieker was born, and he would help out on a friend's family farm in the summer.
"I didn't grow up on a farm or anything," he said.
Spieker attended North Dakota State University to study agronomy, weed science and ag business. He also started doing public relations and promotional work in the world of dirt track racing, where he picked up writing and photography skills.
"I grew up going to the races," he said. His grandpa owned a racecar in the 1950s, and his dad raced, too. Spieker raced go-karts as a kid but more recently has done things like graphic design, advertising sales and press release writing for drivers in the Fargo area.
After a few research internships in the agronomy field, Spieker graduated and joined Sugarbeet Grower Magazine, the first national publication dedicated to sugarbeet production. Spieker is the magazine's third editor.
"Given how small it is, it's got a lot of fight to it, especially in Washington, D.C., with the American Sugarbeet Growers Association," he said.
About half of the sugar from sugarbeets produced in the U.S. comes from the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota. And since half of U.S. sugar production comes from sugarbeets and half from sugarcane, that means the Red River Valley accounts for about a quarter of the nation's sugar.
"They call the Red River Valley 'The sugar basket of North American' just because we are so rich in sugar," Spieker said. "I mean, what better place to have a sugarbeet magazine based out of?"
While Spieker will continue to have a primary focus on sugarbeets across the U.S., he looks forward to revisiting some of his old "college knowledge" of other crops and meeting people in other facets of agriculture.