Early harvest is underway for the Western Sugar Cooperative and it’s growers in Montana and Wyoming.
“So far, it’s going good,” said Ballantine farmer Perry Hein. “The conditions are nice and the moisture is just right. If it was any drier, it would be to dry and any wetter, we would be pulling trucks. It’s been good.”
The Hein family of Ballentine and Custer are Western Sugar growers. And Perry says this year’s sugarbeet crop is one of the best in years.
“Overall, even in the four-state area the crop is a really good crop,” said Hein. “It's probably one of the top three crops that Western Sugar Cooperative has had.”
Levi Hein says the sugar industry continues to be very important for farmers like him.
“The sugar industry is very important,” said Hein. “Obviously, if there wasn't a sugar industry, we'd probably have to raise something else. And, you know, we can't just go plant a crop of cows tomorrow; that takes time to develop a herd of cows. And there's only so much we can produce around here and feed through our livestock. Most everything that we produce outside of sugar beets or wheat, you know, turn into flour is put to cows. So, for this, it's a diversification for the industry.”
He’s also proud that he and his brother Justin’s kids are being raised on the farm and like them learning valuable life lessons thru agriculture.
“We try to teach them just the value of work,” said Hein. “Some days they get to come with us and we go irrigate or we go fix fence and we just teach them some values about life and showing them how dedication to hard work can pay off in the end. And they just love this time of year because now we get to see what we did all summer and turns into a crop and it makes it better for them.”
Perry agrees and says farming is in his family’s blood which gives him hope that his family’s farm will remain multi-generational.
“I don't know, it's just something you grow into I guess ever since I was a little kid,” said Hein. “My dad was involved in agriculture and so was my grandfather. Now it’s several generations. It seems like by the time one generation is getting out, there's the new generation is there to step into it.”
Harvest will hit full speed for Western Sugar Cooperative growers the first week of October.