GLENDIVE, Mont.—With the entire family involved in the annual sugarbeet harvest, the Rice family has very little time for leisure.
The beet harvest began Monday, Sept. 30, for the Rice family and has been going steady ever since.
Deb Rice, who along with her husband, Dan Rice, operate Rice and Sons Inc., with their son, DJ, Dan’s brother, Dave, and other family members, said the day starts early and ends late.
“A typical beet harvest day starts at 5:30 a.m. and ends around 8 p.m.,” Deb said “Everyone is so tired out by the end of the day.”
Dave and DJ head out each morning to run the beet equipment. DJ operates the defoliator and Dave runs the beet digger. Dan drives the loads of beets to the piling station.
“We have a good crew of truck drivers working with Dan,” Deb said. “We are lucky enough to have two drivers from Minnesota and one from Glendive.” Deb’s brother, Mark, is also a relief driver.
Deb has been working in the scale house at the beet dump with her friend, Kathy.
“Around 10 a.m., Dan’s mother, Jenny, provides the working crew a coffee break of caramel rolls and coffee. Then in the afternoon, Dave’s wife, Jo, usually provides an afternoon break of a cool drink and goodies,” Deb said. “It is very appreciated by the crew.”
The family is nearing the end of beet harvest. It will probably last only 8 to10 more days, or less, Deb said.
As of Oct. 9, the Rices completed a 10-day stretch harvesting sugarbeets except for a couple of short delays.
Those delays occurred when the temperatures at night dipped down to 26 degrees and another day when there were temperatures in the mid-70s.
“The sugar content has not been as high as other years. Overall area harvest has been ranging from 16-17 percent,” she said.
Deb added normal growing conditions without a lot of heat can yield sugar content that averages around 18 percent.
“However, the tonnage has been good, with averages in the high 20s-low 30s tons to per acre,” Deb said.
When sugarbeet harvest is finished, the Rice family will be working the fields to get ready for planting next spring.
In addition, calves will be weaned and receive vaccinations.