Sugarbeet harvest at standstill

Published online: Oct 22, 2013
Viewed 853 time(s)

The skies were clear and the sun was shining Oct. 16, however, many of the farm fields in the region remain wet due to the heavy rains of the past few days.

Jason Goltz, a Richland County Extension agent for North Dakota State University, discussed how the recent rain storms have affected area crops.

"Using corn as an example, if we get rain one day, it doesn't bother the corn as much. It can shed water," Goltz said. "But, if we have rain for multiple days and the rain gets into the ear, the ear doesn't dry and the rain starts to get absorbed."

Goltz further explained that if the corn doesn't dry out fast enough, it can lead to a risk of spoilage, by fungal growth and decay.

Having rain for multiple days can saturate the plant tissue and the ground and can take a lot of time to dry out.

"Some of the harvest has been put on hold and will stay on hold until the machines can get out into the field," Goltz said.

Fortunately, in the case of the corn crops, Goltz mentioned that the colder temperatures already felt in the southern Red River Valley, can help protect against potential harmful organisms.

When it comes to another crop in the area, namely sugarbeets, Goltz said producers have seen in the past where they will drag the trucks through the mud as long as they can get the sugarbeets out.

"As far as how long they get shut down directly due to the rain, it can be a judgement call on the part of the processors on when they want the beets," Goltz said.

Sue Moffet, communications manager at Minn-Dak Farmers, said the rain had affected operations at the beet company the past few days.

"Yesterday all stations were closed because of rain," Moffet said. "It's wet and can be tough to get into the fields."

It is too early to tell what sort of impact the period of wet weather will have on the sugarbeet harvest, she said.

Even with the constant drizzling that was seen over the past few days, harvesting sugarbeets is still capable, Goltz said.

"In years past, we have seen weather like this and have still been able to harvest. We just have to check on the crop conditions as we go," he said.

Although it is too early to see what long-range issues will result in the extended wet period the southern Red River Valley has experienced, it has caused a busy fall harvest to grind to a standstill. How long producers remain inactive will depend upon conditions improving in area fields.