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Beet Harvest Day 5 – The Beets Are Too Hot!

Beet Harvest Day 5 – The Beets Are Too Hot!

Morning Conditions:

🌡️ Temperature: 35 degrees F

☀️ Weather: Sunny

💨 Wind: 5 – 10 mph

Waiting for Mud to Harden

A line of trucks full of beets waiting to be dumped into a pile.
The Line Where Trucks Can Turn on Concrete

This morning, we relieved the night crew who had just finished locking out and cleaning the piler.

We have only cleaned the piler on the two pre-pile shifts we snagged so far.

Because cleaning heavy machinery can obviously be dangerous, they have a whole safety procedure in place. It mostly involved shutting the piler off and a lot of padlocks.

Then, we helped pile 3 trucks work of beets in the first hour. 🚛 🚛 🚛

However, we still can’t let them turn around on the dirt (read: deep mud) since 5 of them got stuck yesterday. The truckers have obviously passed this word around because most of them have opted for other pilers.

It’s nice in that we’re only getting the truckers who know they’re shit and can back up. It’s not nice because it’s still kind of cold and doing something is nicer than pacing to stay warm.

The Sun Works It’s Magic

After about 3 hours of the sun hitting the mud on one side of the piler (and the foreman driving over the ruts with a loader), we could allow trucks to turn around instead of backing up.

An what do you know, the truck driver gossip got around and we got more trucks. As I write this on my lunch break, we even have a 2 truck line. 🚛 🚛

This is mostly helpful because it keeps us much busier!

We Loose a Crew Member

One person on our crew was working opposite shifts with her husband. He worked nights and she worked days. However, they only had one van between them. 🚐

Since we take our breaks in our vehicles, you can see how this is problematic.

After 2.5 shifts she told me how hard it was getting. I mentioned that she should go see the Ag and ask if she could work nights with him or he could work days with her. She was worried about asking, but I told her what my Mom always told me…you don’t ask, you don’t get.

With little warning, she jumped off this shift and went to rest before heading onto the night crew tonight with her husband.

It’s normally guaranteed that you work the same shift as your significant other (who share a vehicle). Unless, you specifically request it (which they did). They were worried about their two dogs being alone in the van for so long so they thought opposite shifts would work better for them. Nope. 🙅‍♀️

Now, we 3 ground crew and 1 piler operator. 🤷‍♀️

Double Time

Sugar beet pile and piler.
What A Good Looking Pile!

The best part about today? The whole day is double time since it’s Sunday! 🥳

Apparently, the goal is to stretch the beet harvest over at least two weekends because that’s how you make extra money.

The Beets Are Too Hot!

Just when I thought the day would go smooth and busy, we get a different wrench thrown into the mix.

We were running the ground crew with only 2 people and 1 piler operator (so we could have a break cycle). Then, the foreman showed up and said it had gotten too hot for the beets to go into this pile.

☀️ At 55 degrees and a strong sun, the beets could now only go into piles with ventilation. The outer piles and the indoor piles get ventilation tubes in them by way of skidsteers.

The beet piles with ventilation do two things:

  1. Prevent the piles from becoming compost when it gets warmer during harvest. ♨️
  2. Start to deep freeze the piles of beets. 🥶

Deep freeze pile of beets get eaten by the factory to make sugar last.

Locking Out the Piler to Clean

Inside of a beet harvest piler in the dirt hopper.
Inside the Dirt Hopper of the Piler

Even heavy machinery needs cleaning!

When the beets got too hot, we had to shut the piler down. The foreman backed up the piler, we locked it out and started cleaning it.

By cleaning it, I mean using flat shovels to hack away at least 12 hours of caked mud. It usually takes 30-60 minutes depending on how muddy it gets. This time, it took about 45 minutes as the fields are still quite muddy.

I got to get inside the dirt hopper (pictured above). This does a first round of “cleaning” the beets. It bounces the beets around above it and the dirt and mud fall below (where the picture is taken from).

We Begin Again

At about 6:45 pm, the people in charge decided we could start again.

You should have seen the look on the first trucker’s face when he realized we opened. Every other piler had a line 4-6 trucks deep! I could see him laughing out the window at the truckers on either side.

We crushed out the last hour and when we left, we had a line 6 trucks deep. Have fun, night crew!

Evening Conditions:


🌡️ Temperature: 47 Degrees F

🌤️ Weather: Mostly Sunny

💨 Wind: 5-10 mph

Beet Harvest Day 6 - What's Special About Deep Freeze Piles

Monday 9th of October 2023

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