Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Campaign



American Crystal Sugar Company
Hillsboro Processing Plant
Hillsboro, ND
GPS: 47.434612, -97.062921

As I was doing the research for this story, I noticed the word “campaign” was used often. Thinking about that, the word makes sense because the process is an annual agricultural thing. It may begin in the summer, but for sure it begins by 01 Oct at the start of harvest. I suspect it ends the following spring when all the beets are processed and the processing yards are empty and ready to start again. So how does the campaign get named? If named for the year of harvest, it would be “the 2015 campaign”. If named for the year when the process is complete and all the product is sold or for sale, it would be “the 2016 campaign”. I don’t know the answer?

My understanding is this. American Crystal Sugar Company is an agricultural cooperative. Every year they contract with each of their members to grow and deliver a certain amount of sugar beets. I suspect the unit of measure is acres, since the tons of beets or pounds/tons of sugar is determined by Mother Nature and is unknown until the campaign is in the books.

During the summer, company Agriculturalists visit the fields to check on the growing crops, advise the farmers, and predict what the harvest will look like.

Pre–pile harvest begins in early September. Harvest deliveries are limited and controlled due to the warm weather and poor storage conditions. This limited harvest allows growers to open roadways through fields in preparation for the main harvest, which begins October 1.

Growers deliver their sugar beets to a designated receiving station located throughout the growing area. Sugar beets are harvested with two primary pieces of equipment. The Defoliator removes the green leaves and slices a slab from the top of the sugar beet root. This removed slab is the growing point of the sugar beet and contains high levels of impurities, which impede the factories ability to extract the sugar from the remainder of the harvested root. The sugar beet root is then harvested with a Pinch Wheel Harvester, which pinches the root and lifts it from the soil. The sugar beet harvester also separates some soil and conveys the sugar beet into a truck to be transported to a receiving station.

A Sugar Beet Defoliator


A Pinch Wheel Harvester


Trucks hauling sugar beets to receiving stations are weighed and off loaded on sugar beet pilers. These machines also screen soil from the sugar beets and pile the sugar beets in large storage piles. Samples of sugar beets are taken upon delivery to be analyzed for sugar content, purity and tare.

Sample Bags Ready for Transport


Harvest is concluded in late October.

Throughout the winter, sugar beets are reloaded into rehaul trucks, which deliver the stored sugar beets to the factory for processing. Large front-end loaders load belly dump trailers which haul 27 tons per load. Piles are monitored for temperature during the storage term. Some piles are also passive ventilated or forced ventilated to enhance storage conditions and allow sugar beets to be stored for longer periods. Sugar beets can be stored in piles as long as mid-March when the slicing operations will be completed. Then, it is time to begin the process all over again.

A Belly Dump Trailer


Posts about the Sugar Beet Harvest


FIRST DAY IN NORTH DAKOTA
Hillsboro, North Dakota, we have arrived

GETTING READY FOR WORK
Some paperwork to get us started

ON THE JOB TRAINING
A trip to the Hillsboro factory for some OJT

TEN DAYS OF WORK
Notes and pictures on our ten days of work

THE CAMPAIGN
A quick summary of the annual campaign of sugar beet processing

THE SUGAR BEET
Bigger than a coconut, smaller than a football. Here is the story on the sugar beet

THE PILER
I was very impressed with the big machine we worked on. I thought you might like to learn more.

THE SUGAR BEET PILE
How big is a pile that contains 90,000 tons? Here are some pictures and figures

DOWN AND DIRTY: GIVING BACK THE TARE DIRT
Harvesting root crops produces dirt. How to handle and dispose of it is an interesting side story

A LOOK AT THE SUGAR INDUSTRY
A $20 billion industry with 142,000 jobs in 22 states. Take a look at the Sugar Beet Industry

AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR COMPANY
Get a closer look at the company providing this workamping opportunity.

EXPRESS EMPLOYMENT PROFESSIONALS
If you are a workamper interested in short term hard work for big bucks, here’s the link