Red River Valley Sugarbeet Museum in Crookston honoring migrant families

They'll be recognized at Harvest Festival Sept. 12.

Times Report

The Red River Valley Sugarbeet Museum of Crookston has chosen to honor for 2021 the many migrant families who over the years have come north to work in the sugarbeet fields of Minnesota and North Dakota.

Each year since its inception the museum has chosen an individual or family to honor for their dedication and leadership to the sugarbeet industry.

Beginning in the early 1920s migrant families started coming north from Texas to work in the sugarbeet fields to thin, weed and ultimately harvest the crop. It was tough work and in the beginning the seed was of poor quality and germination with more than one plant coming from each seed. This  required the workers to crawl on their hands and knees to thin and space the plants in the row. Eventually seed was developed from which only one plant came up allowing the thinning process to be done by standing up and using long-handled hoes. Three passes were required the first to thin the beets the second and third to hoe out any remaining weeds.

Gradually herbicides were developed, which took care of the weeds and research showed the beets could be planted about 4 ½  inches apart and left that way with no thinning needed.

In the fall hand labor was again needed to cut the tops off the beets so the farmer could fork them into wagons or trucks.  Following World War II, because of the shortage of workers, the federal government urged machinery companies to develop mechanical harvesters, which they did. Thus the need for hand labor was no longer required.

The museum in making its announcement said it “is proud to honor these fine people for their dedication to the sugarbeet industry.”

They will be honored at the museum’s Harvest Festival on September 12 . If you are someone who worked in the sugarbeet fields you are asked to call 218 280-8181 to give your name and information. For more, visit YouTube and enter “esta es mi casa” (this is my home).