The Sugarbeet Flashback is a regular section in The Sugarbeet Grower magazine. In this edition, we take a look back 50 years to May 1971.

A sketch of the proposed building for the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association Research Center to be constructed on the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo.
A sketch of the proposed building for the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association Research Center to be constructed on the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo.
Plans announced for new beet planted to be constructed in Wahpeton, N.D.

Plans have been announced to construct a major beet sugar processing plant in Wahpeton, N.D.

Officers of the Southern Red River Valley Sugarbeet Corporation and Al Hartl, president of Otter Tail Power Co., Fergus Falls, Minn., made their announcement on April 14.

Final decision to proceed depends on the results of an engineering study now underway and the grinding of acreage allotments and marketing quotas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Acreage to supply the proposed plant would come from both North Dakota and Minnesota.

Land acquisition has begun for the facility which would be located adjacent to the Otter Tail’s Kidder Station on the north edge of the city.

“This is indeed a historic occasion,” said Hartl. “We’re as close to fruition as possible without saying ‘go.’”

A substantial amount of the $25 million plant package would come from farmers, who would participate at the rate of $100 per acre of beets on a positive payback basis. Growers would have to participate to get a beet contract.

Hartl said the associates would form a new company with no company holding a major interest. He described Otter Tail Power’s participation as another diversification effort the firm has embarked upon.

The plan involves moving equipment from a plant at Chatham, Ont., to Wahpeton. The Chatham plant has been closed for three years. (The Chatham plant was erected in 1916 and had a daily rated capacity of 3,200 tons of beets at the time it closed.)

A new steel structure will be built to house the sugarbeet plant which will have a capacity of 4,000 tons per day.

Ted Peet, Wolverton, Minn., landowner and director of Otter Tail, said good soil and good people — the ingredients necessary for success — are present in the project.

Leo Yaggie, Breckenridge, Minn., vice president of Southern Red River Valley Sugarbeet Corp. said, “It’s been a long struggle. It’s got to be the best thing to ever his this area.”

James Link, Mooreton, N.D., president of the corporation, said “the announcement represents the culmination of some 20 years of effort by farmers in the area to break the bottleneck of bringing a large sugar refinery into the southern part of the Valley as a means of materially improving the economy of the area.”

North Dakota youth program reports 7,500 acres of beets thinned in 1970

The mechanized handling of sugarbeets is an accomplished fact but, at present, no machine has been developed which can equal hand methods when the quality and production is of primary importance, and at this time thinning and weeding machines are being used to assist hand laborers rather than replace them.

The 1970 Youth Sugar Beet Program in North Dakota was greatly assisted by the mechanical thinner in most areas and, in some instances, growers used youth labor entirely along with their mechanical thinners. Due to weather conditions and the lateness of seeding operations, there was some abandonment of beet acreage which affected the recruitment and employment of youth.

For 1970, 1,100 youth thinned and hoed 7,458 acres of beets in 55 different farms, working 78,986 hours with an average rate of 1.26 per hour. Supervision of the program was carried out by 35 coordinators and crew supervisors, many of whom have been in the program for years. A total of $99,874.50 was earned by youth, while the supervisors had earnings of $14,743,56 for a grand total of $114,618.06.

The outstanding program for the year was in the Grafton area where nine crews of 297 youth thinned and hoed 3,693 acres and averaged 12 acres per youth, and had a 1.25 hourly rate with total earnings of $51,494.51.

In addition, the total youth of 194, of which 80 were girls, had average earnings of $231.88. As an added incentive a $25 Savings Bond was awarded to the girl and boy with the highest earnings. The girl earned $482.79 and the boy earned $671.55. Three other boys had earnings of $500. Major credit for this successful program is the result of good supervision and the interest and attitude of the youth.

Imperial Valley Beet Growers Net Record

Imperial Valley sugarbeet growers set record highs in tonnage per acre and in money received for sugar sold, according to Ralph Yocum, Holly Sugar Corporation’s agricultural manager for Southern California.

Yocum said that Holly Growers received a final payment of $1,245 million on March 31 for their 1969-70 crop. Total returns to Holly growers amounted to $16 million which includes payments from Holly and under the Sugar Act.

The average price received by the growers, including Sugar Act payment, is $17.85 per ton, the highest return ever received. The crop averaged 24.5 tons per acre, another record, Yocum said.