Sugarbeet harvest for long-term sugarbeet storage usually begins in early October and lasts for four to five weeks. Harvested sugarbeets are transported from the field to piles either at a factory or at a sugarbeet receiving station. Over the winter, sugarbeets in the piling grounds are gradually transported via truck to a factory for processing.
How are the piles maintained from harvest to factory transport to ensure sugarbeet quality?
Pile management begins during harvest with the removal of dirt rings. Dirt rings are the beginning ring or rings of the pile. While building the pile to height, the piler is stationary, which allows for the accumulation of dirt in that local area. Early removal of the dirt rings removes this area of high dirt concentration and allows for better ventilation and cooling.
Like the dirt rings, the shoulders of the piles, the sides, are an area of heavy dirt concentration. This occurs due to the boom staying in one place for an extended period to fill the outer sides. Stripping the sides of the piles removes this heavy concentration of dirt while opening the sides provides better ventilation. Stripping the sides is accomplished using the loader or an excavator.
The top of the pile which is exposed to extreme temperatures and sunlight is also an area susceptible to mold, deterioration, and the accumulation of heat. Equipment, such as an excavator, can be used to remove the top or a portion of the top, allowing for heat to escape, frozen beets to be processed, and mold and bacteria to be removed.
Throughout the storage season, crop consultants walk the piles every 10 days. They are watching for hot spots and areas where the beets are starting to regrow leaves. Regrowth of leaves expends sugar. Removing hotspots helps maintain the quality of the inventory.
In addition to walking on the piles for visual inspection, contractors are hired to fly over the piles and take infrared images. These images further help identify possible areas of concern so that they can be removed.
The campaign usually concludes by the first of April, when all sugarbeets have made their way to a factory.
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