Harvest Festival in September

    The Red River Valley Sugarbeet Museum in Crookston has chosen the Lyle Kiel family as its “Honored Family” for 2019.

    The family will be honored at the museum’s annual Harvest Festival in September.

    Lyle farmed five miles south of Crookston and was elected president of the Sugarbeet Growers Association in 1961. This was a time of much dissension between the company and the growers, and through the work of Lyle and Gerhard Ross, the growers were able to purchase the company in 1972. Lyle’s father, Al, was one of American Crystal Sugar’s first fieldmen.

    Lyle was also an inventor. In 1957 he developed and patented the first row-finder for beet harvesters. The mechanism kept the beet harvesters on the row and greatly reduced the amount of loss due to harvesters being off the row. Today, every harvester is equipped with a row-finder. Lyle also invented a roto-vator, which was basically a bunch of narrow rototillers, which would work up a 6 to 8-inch strip in the stubble, into which the beet row could be planted.

    Lyle’s son, Lonn, took over the farm and was on the American Crystal Sugar Board of Directors for 12 years. Lonn’s son, Christian, is now operating the farm. Lonn’s wife, Deb, is in her fourth term as the District 1B state representative in the Minnesota Legislature.