Talkin’ Sugar Beets

(This is a column from several years ago, however it still fits-GN)



Each year during the Red River valley sugar beet harvest, I try to make the experience a little more real for my readers. I’ve tried pictures and recording my thoughts during the harvest then writing afterwards. This year, I’m writing my sugar beet column directly after returning home. To add reality, I’ve left my harvest clothes on and I still haven’t slept. If you’d really like to join me during this column, go put on something from the clothes hamper then stay awake for a day-that should do it.

This year’s harvest has been a bit unusual for the lack of radio chatter between the truckers and tractor drivers. Three in the morning has always been a time for lively conversation but the first few days of harvest were strangely silent. I even complained to my wife that the lack of conversation was indicative of workers at work instead of at play. The next morning my fears were soothed by a “wall of sound” on the business band. More baloney, lies and trucker humor than you could shake a stick at-I almost wish we could go back the more introspective radio silence.

Last week’s column was read by the masterminds behind the “Beet Beat” on KROX radio in Crookston, Minnesota. The “Beet Beat” is a show that’s unleashed only during the sugar beet harvest and only very late at night. I arrived in the field at three o’clock Tuesday morning to the news that my column and I had been a topic of conversation during the prior hour of broadcast. The announcers couldn’t decide if I liked the “Beet Beat” or not-probably was keeping them up nights. I called and told them I was a fan and that although I had used “inappropriate” only to describe their irreverent and rebellious humor and song selection. I mean where else can you hear Danzig, Mac Davis, Quiet Riot and the Beet Boys all on one radio station and in the same hour?

Harvest conditions have been wet and I am now so used to a tractor pulling my truck without my input that I can barely stand the responsibility of driving my car home after work. Our truck puller is called “the Chicken hawk” because it’s always circling, waiting for one of the trucks to go down in the mud do it can swoop down on it’s prey. Ed Rosendahl has driven the ‘Hawk during my shift and is in charge of starting conversations/trouble on the radio. Eddie reminds me of that nice kid from the neighborhood who you find out years later enjoyed his evenings by starting fires. He’s likes to instigate conversations between two people on the radio then sit back and listen, I guess he‘s still starting fires.

We’re out there and we’re getting it done. It’s too dark to know what the other person is doing but you can bet they’re doing their part to harvest the Valley’s sugar beets. Next time you sweeten your coffee, just think of the R and R farm crew and all the others like us. On second thought-forget it, just drink your coffee.

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