Ann Bailey / Forum News Service
GRAND FORKS — The ripple effect of what likely will be multibillion-dollar crop losses will be felt in many sectors of the Grand Forks regional economy, experts say. A historically wet fall resulted in fields too muddy to harvest; as a result, tens of thousands of acres of grain and row crops were abandoned in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Meanwhile, freezing temperatures destroyed more than a combined 100,000 acres of sugar beets and potatoes in the Red River Valley.
American Crystal Sugar Co. told its shareholders this week that they will receive $37 per ton for the 2019 sugar beet crop. That’s about $14 per ton, or 28%, less than last year’s payment. The announcement was made at the company’s fall factory district meetings held in Drayton, N.D., and Crookston, Minn., on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and in East Grand Forks, Minn., and Hillsboro, N.D., on Wednesday, Nov. 20. The factory district meeting in Moorhead, Minn., will be Thursday, Nov. 21 . About 2,800 Red River Valley farmers grow sugar beets for American Crystal Sugar.
KARLSTAD, Minn. — Sander Dagen raised an exceptional seed potato crop this year. That makes it sting even more as he is forced to abandon approximately 80% of his acres because he cannot harvest them. “You spend a year planning this out," Dagen said. "To have to destroy them is a little bit sad for sure.” The Karlstad farmer, like other seed potato farmers in the Red River Valley, had to abandon acres because wet weather delayed the harvest for several weeks.
HILLSBORO, N.D. -- Jason Siegert’s eyes welled up as he watched his sugar beet crop go under the corn shredder. “That’s the hardest part, to have a crop out there and know we couldn’t get it, and now, we have to mow it off,” Siegert said Wednesday, Nov. 13, as he stood in the field east of the Hillsboro American Crystal Sugar Co. factory. The field that Siegert’s son, Lee, was shredding was one of several that make up the 1,050 sugar beet acres Siegert raises with his business partner, Paul Kozojed.
MOORHEAD — American Crystal Sugar Co. farmer shareholders who had to leave sugar beets in the field this fall will have to pay back the company $343 per acre for the unharvested acres, said growers for the company. The money will be used to cover the company's fixed costs.
CROOKSTON, Minn. — Sugar beet and potato farmers whose crops have been hard hit by excessive moisture this harvest converged on Crookston Tuesday, Nov. 5, to tell U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson about their unprecedented crop losses.
GRAND FORKS — Successive nights of sub-freezing temperatures have caused an estimated $45 million in damage to the Red River Valley red and yellow potato crops. Wet conditions during the past month delayed the potato harvest, leaving about half of the red and yellow crops, which are grown for the fresh market, vulnerable to frost damage, said Ted Kreis, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association spokesman.
EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Farmers from across northwest Minnesota gathered in East Grand Forks on Tuesday, Oct. 29, to tell Gov. Tim Walz and his administrative staff about the unprecedented situation they are facing this harvest season. About 50 farmers attended the roundtable discussion at the U.S. Agriculture Department to express their frustrations about the wet conditions that have resulted in unharvested wheat, soybeans, edible beans, potatoes and sugar beets in northwest Minnesota.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Sugar beet farmers from the region not only will receive lower payments for the 2019 crop year, but some possibly will owe American Crystal Sugar Co. for beets that will go unharvested this fall. On Tuesday, Oct. 29, a farmer from Hillsboro told the Herald that 2019 will go down as the most difficult season in his 40-year career. “I’ve never left beets in the field in this kind of volume before. This is history," said Jason Siegert. "This isn’t just one of the toughest years, it’s the toughest.”
With more than half of North Dakota’s potatoes still in the field, the outlook for harvesting a good quality crop after the latest round of rain and snowfall is poor. “It’s pretty bleak,” said Ted Kreis, Northern Potato Growers Association marketing and communications director. As of Sunday, Oct. 6, 45% of North Dakota’s potato crop had been harvested, National Agricultural Statistics Service-North Dakota said. Last year, 73% of the state’s potato fields had been harvested by that day, the statistics service said. On average, 69% of the North Dakota crop is harvested as of Oct. 6.