Sidney Sugars Harvest Proceeding, But Slowly

Published online: Oct 28, 2019 News Aleisa Tanner
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Source: KFYR-TV

Sugarbeet growers in Fairview, Mont., say the they've had a lot of weather-related setbacks this year, but the biggest obstacle slowing down harvest doesn't have to do with rain.

Workers are busy at the Sidney Sugars facility, and there are lines of 90 trucks waiting to dump sugarbeets. Some have been sitting in line for up to two hours because only four beet pilers are working.

"We're backed up because of mechanical issues. Usually we have six pilers running, and then the yard will be more clear," says Sidney Sugars Agriculturis Somer Reidle. "The lines wouldn't be as long as you see right now." 

There are about 260,000 tons of beets piled up, but there should be about twice as many this time of the year. That’s partially because farmers are trying to catch up after an already late start for harvest.

"It’s going terrible actually this year. We're probably three weeks behind," says Grower brad Buxbaum. "I'm a little over halfway done now, and I should be finishing up this week on a normal year, if not earlier." 

Jim Herkimer, one of Buxbaum's truck drivers, has been hauling beets on and off for about 20 years, and he says he's never seen anything like it.

"Ten to 12 loads a day is normal. We've been getting four or five, lucking out with six or seven loads a day," he says. "And that's 12 to 14 hours."

The Buxbaums still have around 200 acres left to go.

“I hired another set of drivers, and another guy to run the topper," says Buxbaum. "I've been running 18 to 19 hours a day, trying to get stuff done at night. We need to get as much as we can done before the frost hits." 

Herkimer said the farmers might be in trouble.

"The longer they wait, that's a lot of beets in the fields, and that's a lot of money. They won't get their bills paid," said Herkimer.

They say it will probably take another week or two, and the weather does not look promising.