Photos: Harvesting sugar beets in the Red River Valley

Business Nathaniel Minor ·

1 Sugar beet rows on David Kragnes' farm outside of Moorhead, Minn. on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012. First, the green leaves are cut off the top of the sugar beet. The rows at left are unharvested; the rows in the middle have been 'topped.' 
2 David Kragnes' wife Peggy operates a sugar beet topper. 
3 The harvester, at left, picks, cleans and transfers the beets to a truck that drives next to it. 
4 The harvester and truck drivers must communicate constantly as they drive side-by-side. 
5 Farmer David Kragnes' tractor uses GPS coordinates to follow the same path he used when the beets were planted in the spring. 
6 Farmer David Kragnes describes harvesting sugar beets to a reporter on his farm. 
7 Farmer David Kragnes has harvested beets for 46 years. He started when he was 15 years old. 
8 Farmer David Kragnes holds a sugar beet stem. He said hard frost turns the stem and leaves into a mixture of "dental floss and snot." Weather conditions have been ideal this year though, he said. 
9 A pulled sugar beet rests on David Kragnes' harvester. 
10 A truck carrying harvested sugar beets from David Kragnes' farm heads toward the American Crystal Sugar processing plant in Moorhead. Over two weeks this fall, about 900 million tons of beets will be hauled to factories in the Red River Valley where they're washed, sliced and cooked to extract the sugar.