Starting October 1 every year, this Red River Valley turns into chaos central. There are 5 factories for American Crystal Sugar, plus another factory for Minn-Dak growers, and sugarbeet harvest runs 24 hours a day. My quiet county road becomes a steady stream of trucks, bringing in the harvest. It's a chaotic time, and in a perfect world, harvest is over in 2 weeks, but leave it to Mother Nature to throw in some heat, cold, rain or snow. In 2012, our farm tried harvesting sugarbeets until just before Thanksgiving, and we finally threw in the towel and left the sugarbeets in the ground. It snowed October 2, and we battled mud for the rest of harvest.
Although this picture was taken during harvest, there are no trucks at the piling station. That is because of heat. To get sugarbeets into the pile in storable condition, it can't be too hot or too cold. Harvest gets shut down if it freezes or if soil temps get above 55.
If you ever get a chance to taste a sugarbeet, it is around 17% sugar so quite sweet. The beet field and the sugarbeet don't look like much, but once you taste it you'll understand where the sugar comes from. This year when you're sprinkling your Christmas cookies with colored sugar or sprinkling your Grapenuts with a little sugar, please remember those who worked 24 hours a day to bring you that sweetness.