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21st Century Equipment + Sugar Beet Harvest

21st Century Equipment + Sugar Beet Harvest

Posted: November 15, 2022 | By: 21st Century Equipment Team

 

 

At 21st Century Equipment, we’re honored to support farmers as they produce one of Nebraska’s most unique crops: sugar beets.

 

Recently, we spent some time with David Haun. A long-time farmer, David is also a member of the Western Sugar Cooperative. This cooperative is composed of more than 850 growers and shareholders.

The group comes together with one goal in mind: to produce a solid sugar beet crop from year to year. Naturally, some seasons are better than others. The support of a community of people makes it easier to weather the lows and more enjoyable to celebrate the highs.

As for his operation specifically, David and his team cultivated roughly 1,000 acres of sugar beets during the 2022 growing season.

“You plant 50,000 seeds per acre for a population of about 35-40,000 plants,” said Haun. “If at the end of the day you can harvest 10,000 pounds of sugar per acre, that would be considered a successful crop.”

David’s farm is unique in that it was one of the first irrigated farms in Western Nebraska. The land itself runs along Highway 26 and was once part of the Oregon Trail. In the 1800s, a small group of settlers came to the farm with the goal of irrigating the area.

The head gate of the farm itself dates back to 1892. Irrigation was, of course, no small achievement during this period of history. The original canal was hand-dug.

Things have come a long way since then. David now partners with 21st Century Equipment for the technology he needs to efficiently get his crop out of the ground. When visiting David’s team during sugar beet harvest, you’re bound to see several pieces of machinery from us, including:

  • A John Deere 8R 370, which is powerful enough to pull the farm’s sugar beet harvesting equipment.
  • David’s team uses an Amity 3550 to clean any green foliage and dirt from the plant before it moves on to the next stage of harvesting.
  • Last but not least, an Amity 2500 makes efficient work of digging up and lifting the sugar beets from the ground. This machine lifts up to 30 tons of beets in just five minutes.

David’s operation has about 10 semis running at all times to keep the harvest flowing smoothly. 

Sugar beets and sugarcane both produce sucrose, a chief ingredient in table sugar. In fact, sugar beets boast a roughly 17% sugar content within. Sugar beet seeds themselves are fragile, but once this plant produces its fruit, the results are anything but. The average sugar beet weighs between 1 and 2 pounds, but David’s team unearthed one this growing season that was nearly 9 lbs in weight.

In addition to being a key component in the sugar that goes on millions of Americans’ tables each day, sugar beets are a useful crop for livestock. One of the byproducts of this crop is used by many cattle farmers as a valuable addition to feed. The inclusion of sugar beet pulp assists with the consistency of cattle feed. It also makes for some happy cows due to its sweet flavor.

Western Sugar Cooperative is made up of farmers from Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana. In total, Western Sugar bags sugar for over 30 different consumer labels and provides bulk sugar for numerous industrial customers. In total, sugar beets account for between 55-60% of U.S. sugar production.

21st Century Equipment is privileged to work with farmers like David and many others who play an integral role in sugar beet growing and harvest. Whether your operation needs assistance with agriculture equipment, John Deere Precision Ag resources or parts and service support, we’ve got you covered. Visit your nearest 21st Century Equipment location to learn more.

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