FELTON, Minn. — Sugar beet farmers in the Red River Valley worked into the night Friday, Oct. 18, to harvest as many acres they could before bad weather struck again.
Terry Eidem and his son Trent were not sure what to expect once they got into a 73-acre beet field near Felton earlier in the day, but they hoped it wouldn't be as challenging as the fields they had tried to work earlier on.
"I started doing some fields we had opened before and I couldn't even keep the four-wheel drive moving. It was a mess ... really just slop," Trent said.
Many fields were too wet to get into, but the weather finally cooperated late this week. Trent said sun and wind on Thursday, as well as wind overnight, made a huge difference. Fields were dry enough Friday to get equipment and people out harvesting, and with rain in the forecast later in the weekend, the farmers worked as fast as they could.
With conditions greatly improved, beet piling stations were open during the night as long as growers were harvesting.
But while workers were able to get into the fields, it still wasn't easy. Along with the beets, lifters picked up huge chunks of mud.
At times, Trent and his dad had to go through the lifter trying to get mud balls out. It was tedious work, but the father and son were racing against time.
As the beets come out of the ground, the next problem is getting the labor to drive the trucks. Because of horrible weather and wet fields, the harvest stood still for a while and drivers are now hard to find.
Farmers hope the forecast is wrong, but they still push forward knowing from experience that their time may be limited.
"It's been really challenging; it's been a tough fall. As soon as it dries up and we think we can get going ... we get another rain or snow," Terry said.