Sugarbeet harvest moves in fits and starts

More than 4 inches of rain fell in some parts of the Red River Valley between Oct. 9 and Oct. 13, muddying sugarbeet fields.

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Farmers who grow sugar beets for American Crystal Sugar Co., like this one in a field a few miles west of Crookston, Minnesota had good weather on Tuesday, Sept. 12, to harvest their crops, but rain shut down digging the next day.

Rain during the second week in October slowed the harvest of farmers who grow sugarbeets for American Crystal Sugar, as more than 2 inches fell.

The rain on Wednesday, Oct. 13, came on the heels of a storm the previous weekend that dumped up to 4 inches of rain in the northern and central Red River Valley.

The rain over the weekend halted the sugar beet harvest in some American Crystal Sugar factory districts on Monday, Oct. 11. Farmers up and down the Red River Valley were back in the field lifting sugar beets on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

"Tuesday, we were going good. Field conditions were good,” said Steve Rosenau, American Crystal Sugar director of agriculture.

However, more rains fell on Wednesday and brought the harvest to a standstill.


Generally, rainfall during the past week was heavier in the northern Red River Valley. For example, from 3 to 4 inches of rain fell in Cavalier, North Dakota, over the weekend of Oct. 9-10 and another 1.57 inches fell on Oct. 13, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, North Dakota. At the southern end of the valley 0.70 inches of rain fell on Oct. 9-10 Fargo, North Dakota, and on Oct. 13, 1 to 1.5 inches fell, the National Weather Service reported.

It’s possible that a few sugarbeet fields may be dry enough by Friday, Oct. 15. for farmers to start digging beets, but most of them will likely start harvesting again the next day, Rosenau said on Thursday, Oct. 14.

If the weather forecast is accurate, drier weather and favorable harvest temperatures will dominate during the next week, which means farmers should have several consecutive days to dig sugarbeets.

“It looks like we should get a window to make good harvest progress,” Rosenau said.

Farther south, the sugarbeet harvest at MinnDak Farmers Co-Op in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-Op in Renville, Minnesota, was underway early the week of Oct. 11, but rain was expected to result in delays.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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