Sugar beet farmers face weather related set-backs

Sugar-beet farmers in Fairview say the they've had a lot of weather-related set-backs this year, but the biggest obstacle halting harvest doesn't have to do with rain.

Workers are busy at the Sidney Sugars facility, and there are lines of ninety trucks waiting to dump sugar beets. Some have been sitting in line for up to 2 hours because only four beet-pilers are working.

"We're backed up because of mechanical issues. Usually we have six pilers running, and then the yard will be more clear. The lines won't be as long as you see right now," said Agriculturist for Sidney Sugars, Somer Reidle.

There are about 260-thousand tons of beets piled-up, but there should be about twice as many this time of the year. That’s partially because farmers are trying to catch up after an already late start for harvest.

"It’s going terrible actually this year. We're probably three weeks behind I'd say by now. I'm a little over half-way done now, and I should be finishing up this week on a normal year, if not earlier," said Brad Buxbaum, a farmer in Fairview.

Brad's truck-driver, Jim Herkimer has been hauling beets on-and-off for about 20 years, and says he's never seen anything like it.

"Ten to 12 loads a day is normal. We've been getting four, five; lucking out with six or seven loads a day, and that's 12 to 14 hours," said Herkimer.

They still have around 200 acres left to go.

“I hired another set of drivers, and another guy to run the topper. I've been running 18 to 19 hours a day trying to get stuff done at night. We need to get as much as we can done before the frost hits," said Buxbaum.

Jim Herkimer said the farmers might be in trouble.

"The longer they wait, that's a lot of beets in the fields, and that's a lot of money. They won't get their bills paid," said Herkimer.

They say it will probably take another week or two, and the weather does not look promising.