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Harvesting Sugarbeets

Lifting Sugarbeets
Pre pile harvest begins in early September. Harvest deliveries are limited and controlled due to the warm weather and poor storage conditions. This limited harvest allows shareholders to open roadways through fields in preparation for the main harvest, which begins October 1. Shareholders deliver their sugarbeets to a designated receiving station of which the cooperative has 12 located throughout the growing area. Sugar beets are harvested with two primary pieces of equipment. The defoliator removes the green leaves and slices a slab from the top of the sugar beet root. This removed slab is the growing point of the sugar beet and contains high levels of impurities, which impede the factories ability to extract the sugar from the remainder of the harvested root. The sugar beet root is then harvested with a pinch wheel harvester, which pinches the root and lifts from the soil. The sugar beet harvester also separates some soil and conveys the sugar beet into a truck to be transported to a receiving station.

Trucks hauling sugar beets to receiving stations are weighed and off loaded on sugar beet pilers. These machines also screen soil from the sugar beets and pile the sugar beets in large storage piles which are 18 feet tall and 1500 feet long.

Samples of sugar beets are taken upon delivery to be analyzed for sugar content, purity and tare. Sugar beets are reloaded into rehaul trucks, which deliver the stored sugar beets to the factory for processing. Large front-end loaders load belly dump trailers which haul 27 tons per load. Piles are monitored for temperature during the storage term. Some piles are also passive ventilated or forced ventilated to enhance storage conditions and allow sugar beets to be stored for longer periods. Harvest is concluded in late October. Sugar beets can be stored in piles as long as mid March when the slicing operations will be completed. Then, it is time to begin the process all over again.

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