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Temperatures in the Red River Valley remain too warm for American Crystal Sugar Co. growers to harvest beets

As of Monday, Oct. 4, it appeared that temperatures may be cool enough by the morning of Sunday, Oct. 10,and the stockpile harvest will start that day, said Steve Rosenau, American Crystal Sugar Co. director of agriculture.

High temperatures delayed sugarbeet harvest the first week of October 2021. Photo taken Sept. 27, 2021, near Humboldt, Minnesota. Emily Beal / Agweek

Unseasonably warm temperatures have — again — held back the start of the stockpile harvest of American Crystal Sugar for several more days.

The company originally had planned to launch the stockpile harvest on Friday, Oct. 1. However, daytime temperatures on Friday were in the upper 70s, so American Crystal pushed ahead the start date to Monday, Oct. 4, in hopes temperatures would cool by then.

However, daytime highs on Monday were even warmer, reaching into the low 80s, so the stockpile harvest once more was delayed. The forecast for the week is for the high temperatures to remain in the low 80s,and for nighttime low temperatures to be in the lower 50s.

The warm temperatures have resulted in sugar beet root temperatures in the mid-to upper 50s, which is higher than they need to be to safely store the sugar beets, said Steve Rosenau American Crystal Sugar Co director of agriculture.

The streak of warm October temperatures that have delayed the start of the company's stockpile harvest is not unprecedented, but it is unusual, Rosenau said.


As of Monday, it appeared that temperatures may be cool enough by the morning of Sunday, Oct. 10, and the stockpile harvest will start that day, Rosenau said.

In the meantime, American Crystal Sugar Co.’s farmers in the company’s factory districts will harvest just enough sugar beets to keep their factories operating, he said.

The company also is rotating employees to keep as many of them working during the next week as possible.

American Crystal Sugar Co. also is holding events this week at its factories up and down the Red River Valley, Rosenau said.

“Every district has been working to plan something to keep the harvest laborers engaged,” he said.

For example, the Crookston factory district is hosting a free movie at the SkyVu Drive-In in Warren, Minnesota, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, according to American Crystal Sugar Co.’s web site. The Crookston Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association also will host a free movie on Wednesday at the Grand Theater in Crookston for all American Crystal Sugar and Express employees.

The Drayton, North Dakota, factory district, meanwhile, is hosting events, including grill outs this week for its employees to attend, according to the website.

While the harvest delay is frustrating, on the flip side, the warm temperatures are increasing sugar content and the size of the sugar beets, Rosenau said.


The company earlier this year had anticipated that this year’s total production would be 10.5 million tons, which is about a million tons less than the historical total production average. However, the beets have continued to increase in size and weight during the past months, so have potential to be larger than the initial production estimate, Rosenau said. He estimates the sugar content will be about 17.5% about average for the company.

Meanwhile in Idaho, Amalgamated Sugar reported Monday was the first day of harvest in the Mini-Cassia and Twin Falls districts.

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