WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published October 06, 2010, 03:47 PM

Warm Weather Slowing Beet Harvest

Warm weather may be good for those who enjoy the sun, but for beet farmers it shuts down harvest.

Warm weather may be good for those who enjoy the sun, but for beet farmers, it shuts down harvest. American Crystal Sugar Company has had to shut down many times this week because of these warm temperatures.

With temperatures rising above 60 degrees, the plant has to stop accepting beets from farmers to save beets already in the piles.

It's a busy day out in the yard of American Crystal Sugar Company in East Grand Forks. Beet trucks are lining up to get their last haul of the day before the plant stops accepting beets because it is too hot to pile.

"Well the beets are live in the pile and they perspire and they are using their energy source is sugar so the warmer they are the more they perspire the more sugar that they use up," said Jerry Christenson the Agro Manager for American Crystal Sugar.

So far, American Crystal has had to shut down early every day this week because temperature have reached well over 60 degrees. At that point the beets start to decompose within the piles. But shutting down the yard doesn't just bring farmers to a standstill, it stops about 10 thousand workers as well.

"It affects a lot of people so it causes us concern when these peoples' shifts are interrupted but we have to do what's best for the long term storage of the beets and that dictates if we're going or not," Christenson said.

American Crystal has to be careful with the piles because some beets are stored for 250 days before they get processed.

Once the decision is made to shut down piling operations Christenson says communication is the key.

"When we make a decision, we send out a text message. We got a group text message system that goes out to all the growers and a lot of the truck drivers and workers are also on that system," said Christenson.