The Red River Valley Sugar Beet Harvests Pelted

Red River Valley harvests of sugar beet in the U.S. left farmers in a series of plagues caused by the weather.

Rain and snow bombarded crops in September and October. A blizzard followed it, and then warm temperatures left the farms a boggy mess. Then, a deep freeze came, which ruined the underground sugar beet crop and dealt a sharp blow to farm incomes.

Dan Younggren, a farmer, said he could take some of the perils from nature, and after that, he is down on his knees. He was unable to harvest 200 hectares of sugar beets, or the 40% of his farms near Hallock, Minnesota. He also added that they never had such a situation in their fields.

Extreme weather hampered planting and harvesting of corn, soybeans, and other crops the whole of 2019 across the U.S. and Canadian farms.

The freeze is double in Minnesota and North Dakota, which offset for 56% of the United States sugar beet acres this year.

Sugar beet growers’ agreements with processors need those who leave unharvested acres to settle a fee to the cooperative so it can settle its bills in leaner years. These are the farmers who operate as farmer-owned cooperatives.

Younggren’s five-generation farm should pay American Crystal Sugar a fixed amount of $343 for every unharvested acre. It will total to roughly $171,500 to docked from payments for beets the farmer harvested.

The combination of thaws, rains, and the freeze made the beets unusable. Wade Hanson was unable to harvest 50%, or 500 acres, of the farm’s plantings this year. He grows sugar beets with his family around Crookston, Minnesota.

He said his family always get the best crop, but this year it was different, which shocked them.


The Red River Valley on Sugar Beets Harvest

On Monday, the U.S. government licensed the import of an additional 100,000 short tons of Mexican-refined sugar because of the harvest issues. After Indonesia and China, the United States is the world’s third-largest sugar importer. The U.S. purchased 2.8 million tons in 2018-2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

United Sugars Corp and Producers Western Sugar Cooperative circulated force Majeure notices this month. Also, other processors faced severe winter.

At American Crystal Sugar’s factory, farmer David Thompson circled the field in his pickup, investigating the snow-covered hill of sugar beets.

He said usually he would see piles everywhere, but this year is heartbreaking for him to see his yards. He left 170 acres unharvested.

Cargill Inc. has an adequate supply of cane sugar for its Louisiana refinery, but he may import more if consumers need it. Cargill Inc. is one of the largest U.S. refined sugar suppliers.

Crop insurance will pay farmers for some of their crop loss, but no program will allow them to recover the fixed cost fees.

Luther Markwart, vice-president of ASGA, said it is too early to know the extent of yield damage. Farmers could seek assistance under the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program. Farmers have not used the program before field crops damaged by rain and cold.

In towns around the Red River Valley, the sugar field disaster left few residences untouched.

Chip Olson said it is going to affect everyone from the grocers to restaurants to the liquor stores.

Many of the town’s residents are employees of Crystal Sugar plant and typically have seasonal jobs until late spring. This year, the work will possibly run out months earlier.

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