What is the Sugar Beet Harvest?
Beet’s me! Okay, had to get that out of my system. I apologize. We can move on now.
Firstly, you can’t search “Sugar Beet Harvest” and not read about the American Sugar Crystal Company (ASCC). They are a Minnesota based agricultural cooperative that apparently hires over 1300 workers to assist with the sugar beet harvest every fall. It is referred to as ‘The Unbeetable Experience’, which was coincidentally going to be the name of my (entirely beet-made) instrumental album. I guess they beet me to it. I think my band “The Beet Machine” may require some re-branding. I’m so sorry. I promise, I’ll stop. Anyway…
Every fall, in areas of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana beet trucks and harvesting equipment can be seen on roads and fields in droves. The sugar beet harvest is immense and could not be achieved without the help of seasonal employees to bring the crop from the farm to American Crystal’s receiving stations.
Most of American Crystal piling site employees are supplied through their partnership with Express Employment Professionals. It’s Express Employment Professionals who take on the mission of finding over a thousand temporary employees to fill the positions. Positions such as piler operators, skid steer and loader operators, foreman and ground crew. It was Express’ resources and ability to locate individuals around the country who might be interested in this line of work that got them the beet business and it didn’t take long to discover, workampers are a perfect fit for the role.
Every position requires being on your feet, your entire shift, with some positions requiring walking, bending, twisting, and lifting. No schooling or experience is necessary for the “Helper” job. However, equipment operator positions do require certifications and/or experience. For all positions you need to be authorized to work lawfully in the United States and be able to read and understand English. The company provides safety helmets, reflective vests, goggles, and ear protection.
You’re responsible for:
- Weather-appropriate clothes (including gloves). Most positions take place outdoors and temperatures during harvest season are usually at least in the 40’s and 50’s, and rain or snow won’t mean a day off. Dress in layers, you’ll thank me later.
- Hiking boots or work boots – No sneakers, rubber boots, sandals.
Up to $2,500 per person for two weeks of work. Can’t beet that! Although, it does appear that pay is dependent on position and location.
- A free, full-hookup site is included. If your site doesn’t have sewer hookups, a vacuum truck service is provided twice a week free of charge.
- Workampers are assigned a campground when they’re assigned to a location.
- When/If you complete the harvest, you receive 5% of your gross wages as a bonus.
- Referring others to work the beet harvest may also receive a referral bonus.
The day shift works 7am to 7 pm and night shift works 8 pm to 8 am. You can request days in your application, but it is not guaranteed. Workers get 3-4 breaks per shift of about 15 minutes, plus a lunch break. Every shift works seven days a week until the harvest is done, which can typically be 10-14 days. Work is conditional on the weather so when the temperature gets to 65 degrees and above the day may be shortened. This is because the beets are in danger of rotting when sitting in piles. Start dates also depend on weather and a representative will let workampers know in July or August when to arrive and when the season will start. Monday-Friday it’s time-and-a-half for everything over eight hours, Saturday is all time-and-a half and Sunday is time-and-a-half or double time depending on location. Workers get paid every other week and you can enroll for direct deposit, or receive a Global Cash Card.
Safe Travels to you all, and remember…
”Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost