North Dakota and Minnesota sugarbeet farmers made good harvest progress during the last week and a half in October, and were well more than half done digging sugarbeets.

As of Sunday, Oct. 24, the two states’ farmers had harvested 68% of the sugarbeet crop, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

By Wednesday, Oct. 27, that number had jumped by 19 to 28 percentage points, according to estimates by managers of sugarbeet companies in North Dakota and Minnesota.

The American Crystal Sugar Co. harvest was 96% complete as of Tuesday, Oct. 26, said Steve Rosenau, American Crystal Sugar agriculture director. He expected the company's harvest to be nearly wrapped up by the weekend of Oct. 30-31, except for a few farmers at the extreme north end of the Red River Valley, near the Canadian border, whose fields were too muddy to dig sugarbeets because of rains that fell the previous week.

Farmers avoided frost damage to the beets when temperatures dipped Oct. 21-23 because they topped the beets just ahead of the harvester, Rosenau said.

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“No frozen beets went into the pile,” he said. “The growers did a fantastic job of best practices.”

Farther south, the harvest of farmers who grow sugarbeets for Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-Op was 87% complete as of the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 27, said Todd Geselius, Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-Op vice president of agriculture. Rain that day shut down several of the co-op’s receiving stations.

The amount of rain that fell on the fields of Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op growers on Oct. 27 and how cold temperatures dip the next week will determine how soon the harvest will be completed, Geselius said.

“How much rain we get is the biggest factor. There also are some cold temperatures forecast next week. We may not be able to harvest during the coldest part of the day,” Geselius said.

The harvest of Minn-Dak Farmers Co-Op was 90% complete as of Wednesday, Oct. 27, said Mike Metzger, MinnDak Farmer Co-Op vice president of agriculture. How soon, and if, MinnDak Farmers Co-Op farmers can complete the remaining 10% of the harvest also will depend on next week’s weather.

Rains on Oct. 27 shut down a few of the cooperative’s receiving stations, Metzger said. The weather during the next few days was forecast to be dry, but frigid temperatures forecast early the week of Oct. 31, could delay, or even, “put a nail in the coffin” of the harvest, depending on how cold the mercury drops, he said.