The Sugar Beet Harvest- an Unbeetable Experience

The Sugar Beet Harvest

The Sugar Beet Harvest happens each year!

The annual Sugar Beet Harvest migration of RVers starts after the end of the Summer Camping season when Labor Day celebrations are just dwindling down.

The Sugar Beet Harvest occupies two main areas in the Midwest which include Sidney, Montana and the Red River Valley. Each season hundreds of working RVers flock to these areas for short-term adventures. And while each area does attract thousands of actual tourists each year- thats not the reason working RVers tend to come… (keep reading to learn more about this workamping job with BIG rewards)

***Update: Stay Pay Progam Initiated for 2021 Season!****

A Stay Pay Program Initiated for 2021 Sugar Beet Harvest Season! Read More Details and watch video from Program Manager Alyssa, Kaste at the end of this post!!!! Scroll all the way down to read the rules and watch the video!

Sugar Beet Harvest For RVers

Sugar Beet Harvest | Video Credit: America’s Heartland

RVers who have hunkered down in the top tourist destinations, usually make their way South, heading for snowbird approved destinations for the fall & winter months ahead. The highways are packed with RVers heading south and far west, but many RVers have a different idea…

“Let’s do the Sugar Beet Harvest this year!”

Easy to spot, since they seem to be headed in the wrong direction, as they steadily drive farther north with their hearts set on racking in big cash before calling it quits on workamping jobs for the year!

The Sugar Beet Harvest by Express Employment

They’ve signed an agreement with Express Employment Professionals to work the Sugar Beet Harvest, for a workamping job they call an Unbeetable Experience.

Committed usually for the full month of October, give or take a few days depending on mother nature’s plan for the weather that year, RVers working the Sugar Beet Harvest stand to rack in about $2500 a piece for just 2 weeks of work.

Sugar Beet Harvest
The Sugar Beet Harvest Offers Jobs for RVers

Sugar Beet Harvest Jobs

The Sugar Beet Harvest is championed by a collective effort between Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency who hires for the nation’s two largest sugar producers, American Crystal Sugars and Sidney Sugars.

Together they actively hire more than 1500 employees to work the Sugar Beet Harvest each year at 42 receiving stations and 6 factories. Since the local unemployment rate is pretty much non-existent, meaning everyone who wants to work is already working, Workampers are seen by some as the reliable infantry of seasonal help for the booming 5-billion-dollar beet industry.

“Work Campers are the heartbeat of the Sugar Beet Harvest operation!”

In fact, if you’re a numbers person, you might be surprised, or at least interested to know that a whopping 42% of these 1500+ positions are filled by working RVers each year!

Sugar Beet Harvest Growers:

American Crystal Sugar Company

American Crystal Sugar Company, are growers who grow and harvest the sugar beets and also the company and the factories that the final products. Through their tightly integrated business model, American Crystal Sugar Company pulls together, unlocks hidden potential, and shares in all the results.

Through their sugar beet processing facilities, American Crystal Sugar Company processes sugar beets into all‐natural sugar; as well as a variety of agri‐products such as molasses and sugar beet pulp which have their own respective markets for sale and use.

They employ approximately 1,400 full-time employees and about 900 hourly seasonal workers and many more contracted third-party workers- including Working RVers!

Sydney Sugars

Sidney Sugars Incorporated operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of American Crystal Sugar Company.

The factory in Sidney, Montana, was acquired in 2003 as part of a multi-factory transaction with Imperial Sugar Company. Now, Sidney Sugars contracts roughly 30,000 acres of sugar beets into the factory through local sugar beet growers with the help of many seasonal employees including those who combine their RVs!

RVers love the Sugar Beet Harvest!

Obviously, Americans love their sugar! RVers are no different…

And while working the Sugar Beet Harvest is a unique Workamping experience, the hiring team likes to be upfront and honest about the details of working at the Sugar Beet Harvest, to ensure that RVers are making the best decision for their personal situations when deciding if this workamping opportunity is right for them.

The Express Employment Team has said several times that positions at the Sugar Beet Harvest and the whole experience “is not for everybody” so make sure you read on and do your due diligence to gather all the information you need to know about Sugar Beet Harvest jobs before submitting your application for this year’s harvest.

Sugar Beet Harvest Crops
Sugar Beet Harvest Positions

Sugar Beet Harvest Positions

There are a variety of positions available at the Sugar Beet Harvest for RVers interested in the unbeetable experience! This year alone, they have 160 positions at their Montana location and almost 800 at the locations in the Red River Valley.

With that said, many RVers make this short commitment a reoccurring staple in their workamping arsenal before hunkering down for the Winter, so almost 400 of those are already spoken for by the almost 50% of returning RVers.

The following is a list of 3 major hiring categories for the harvest-

Sample Takers at the Sugar Beet Harvest!

Sample Takers Jobs at the Sugar Beet Harvest! These are the general job positions Workampers are being hired for. The majority of applicants will be hired for these jobs, as this is the only position Express Employment can guarantee placement in for each Sugar Beet Harvest.

Basic job responsibilities include collecting beet samples and assisting the Piler Operators in cleaning and maintaining the area. Helpers will also communicate with drivers to ensure safe and accurate unloading of the delivery trucks.

Quality Lab at the Sugar Beet Harvest!

Quality Lab Jobs at the Sugar Beet Harvest! 6 indoor positions are offered inside the Quality Lab, where samples are tested to determine the farmer’s pay for their crops: Dock, Tare, Scale, Brei Belt, Brei Mixer & LDB Quality.

While these positions are all indoors and only require 10-hour shifts, positions in the Quality Lab are very limited. They also still require constant standing and are a very important part of the Sugar Beet Harvest operation. Workampers who wish to secure these jobs are urged to apply as early as possible.

Skilled Positions at the Sugar Beet Harvest!

Skilled Positions at the Sugar Beet Harvest! There are a limited amount of skilled labor positions available each year at the Sugar Beet Harvest. These positions require past knowledge and operation skills of heavy equipment and machinery. Applicants for these positions will be hand selected by American Sugars directly.

Returning RVers who have proven their reliability and great work ethic are more likely to be accepted into these positions after year 1 is complete.

If you are interested in these positions, send your resume along with your online application and be prepared for an onsite ‘audition’ once you are in the area.

Sugar Beet Harvest Piler Operators

Maneuvers the piler control switches, orchestrates repair work, supervises and assists in the cleanup of daily operations.

Sugar Beet Harvest Working Conditions
Sugar Beet Harvest Working Conditions

Skid Steer Operators at the Sugar Beet Harvest!

Places deep freeze pipes and helps clean and maintain the pile area.

Sugar Beet Harvest
The Sugar Beet Harvest Offers Jobs for RVers

Sugar Beet Harvest Working Conditions

Working conditions at the Sugar Beet Harvest deserve some attention!

As you can probably imagine, the working conditions of the Sugar Beet Harvest will be drastically different from the cozy campground store you might have worked in during a summer workamping job.

The luxury of sitting for hours on end, chatting with guests about the crowding at the pool and installation of the new sauna should not be compared to the sights and sounds of working the Sugar Beet Harvest!

The Sugar Beet Harvest is not a job you accept based on the beautiful view from your campsite, the perks of using the employee golf carts or the ability to explore the local area for new experiences.

Sugar Beet Harvest Key Points

You’ll Work 12 Hour Shifts at the Sugar Beet Harvest

RVers going to the Sugar Beet Harvest should know up front that these position require 12 hour shifts on your feet. Shifts run 7:00-7:00 and 8:00-8:00

Most often then not, you’ll be standing or walking throughout the majority of your shift. You’ll be outside either during the days or nights, and you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared with food, water and comfortable clothing.

Exhaustion is a real thing while working the Sugar Beet Harvest

Long hours can take a toll on your body.

Personally I’ve never worked 12 hours, outdoors and around heavy machinery in the cold- but I can only imagine it could easily turn from fatigue to exhaustion pretty quickly.

While you do get 3-4 breaks per shift and a lunch break while working the Sugar Beet Harvest… make sure you don’t underestimate the job or overestimate your physical abilities.

Expect Winter Weather during the Sugar Beet Harvest

The Sugar Beet Harvest happens every year in northern states like Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and most recently Michigan. Count on winter weather. Check out these tips on winter camping if you’re worried about freezing pipes among other things. Campgrounds may shut off water, but arrangements would then be made for your tanks to be filled weekly or bi-weekly.

Temperates during the early mornings and late nights can drop below freezing which means you’ll need to wear appropriate clothing and layer up during your shift.

Get Comfortable with Heavy Machinery at the Sugar Beet Harvest

If you’re uncomfortable with working around heavy machinery, the Sugar Beet Harvest probably isn’t the right job for you! Large trucks, conveyers, and other heavy machinery are used around the clock and are essential to getting the bets harvested in the short amount of time the harvest runs.

Expect Filthy Clothing & Dirty Work Conditions at the Sugar Beet Harvest

This is not an workamping office job. You will be outside in the dirt at your assigned piling station. This means you’ll have much time spent standing in the clay-like dirt that not only stains your clothes, but also smells pretty bad! If you’re not comfortable getting dirty and having mud stuck to your clothing from head to toe- this might not be a workamping job you’ll enjoy- no matter how much it pays!

There Are No Flush Toilets at The Sugar Beet Harvest

This is a big one for me… I need a flushing toilet that’s clean and sanitized regular! And let’s be honest, you won’t find that in the middle of these piling stations!

If you’ve ever been in a port potty before you know a few things. They aren’t incredibly large, there is no light to turn on, you basically (hopefully) squat over a hole, and they’re just not an incredible experience for the private moments when nature calls… Expect to use your head lamp if working the night shift. Expect for them to be just as dirty as your boots, and don’t expect the toilet paper will be dry or even usable for that matter…

This one thing- forever makes this opportunity off the list of adventures for me, but for others it’s not even a consideration and they go each year to rake in the cash and leave with big smiles!

Sugar Beet Harvest Jobs
Sugar Beet Harvest

Prepare for the Sugar Beet Harvest!

Working the Sugar Beet Harvest is a strenuous workamping job that will require some preparation prior to your arrival.

During the summer prior to your Sugar Beet harvest experience, it is advisable to add daily exercises like jogging, swimming, yoga, pilates, stretching, and/or light weight lifting to your health regimen.  Preparing your body for physically demanding work can help lighten the harshness of the physicalities you’ll experience after arrival.

Start by slowly implementing exercise into your daily habits and grow to include more over the full course of the summer.

Even small efforts like walking your dog more often and for longer periods or riding a bike to the store instead of driving will pay off in the long run!

Sugar Beet Harvest: Things To Know

  • The Sugar Beet Harvest is relatively short, at just about 10-14 working days.
  • The pay is good and starts at $16.45/hr. Increases are given to returning workers who come back for consecutive seasons and those in skilled labor positions.
  • Manager Positions are also available and start at higher wages.
  • Shifts are long and span a full 12 hours in most cases,
  • You will spend most of your time on your feet.
  • Piling stations are noisy and there is a lot of heavy equipment.
  • PPE includes boots, ear plugs, hard hats, safety vest, and gloves among other items.
  • Your campsite is provided FREE as part of your compensation package,
  • You will not receive a 1099 at the end of the year or see the value noted on your pay stubs.
  • The first 8 hours of your shift are paid at the regular pay rate, while the last 4 are paid at time and a half.
  • Saturdays are paid at time and a half and they offer Sundays at either time and a half or double time- depending on the location.
  • Temperatures drop below freezing usually during the nights,
  • All employees will need to be prepared to work throughout their entire shift wearing the appropriate clothing.
  • Operations can shut down on days when it’s too hot, too cold or too wet.
  • When you complete your agreed commitment, you will receive a 5% Harvest Completion Bonus as an extra thank you for your hard work and dedication to seeing the project through!
  • Basic job requirements require that everyone must be able to lift a minimum of 25lbs.
  • There are optical for rest days if the piling stations shuts down.
Sugar Beet Harvest
Sugar Beet Harvest

Sugar Beet Harvest Campground Info

Working with 32 Campgrounds in the region, part of your compensation for working at the Sugar Beet Harvest will include your campsite. Yes! You read that correctly.

FREE camping is included for Sugar Beet Harvest workers every year!!

Once hired on, the HR Staff will make your campground reservations and take care of all the details including paying for the site for the entirety of your stay. Keep in mind not all campgrounds are created equally. This means some will have more amenities than others and space is limited for Sugar Beet Harvest workers.

To ensure you have the best chance of getting a campsite in the campground you really have your heart set on, make sure you get your application in early! The sooner you get your application in, the better your chances of getting a spot at one of the nicer ones.

“Not all campgrounds are created equal. The sooner you get your application in, the better your chances of getting a spot at one of the nicer ones.”

Express Employment Professionals
  • Most of the Campgrounds offered provide a full hook up for RVers. If you by chance get a campground without sewer they will offer a honey wagon service free of charge.
  • Also, if the temperature drops below freezing during your time at the Sugar Beet Harvest, and the campgrounds have to shut off the water at the campsite, (which has only really happened during the very last part of October when the season stretched out), they would provide a water truck also free of charge to fill your tanks.
  • Some campgrounds will have a campground host on site, but not all are able to offer this amenity. Campground hosts, are also not a position available through the Sugar Beet Harvest program.
  • Most of the campgrounds for the Sugar Beet Harvest are located very near to towns with gas stations, groceries, laundromats and hardware stores. But heading to Walmart and other big box stores would require more driving and possibly a shutdown day for enough time and energy to make the trip. 
  • RVers are asked to arrive for the Sugar Beet Harvest with enough propane and food rations to allow for two full weeks of work without requiring an errand trip to go get more, just in case.
  • The farthest campground is about 28 miles away from the piling site, so make sure you have a reliable vehicle or transportation to get to and from work, as walking would not be an option.
  • Most sites are said to be about a 10-minute commute to work, which isn’t bad and for Workampers without a tow or in town vehicle, carpooling with friendly neighbors is always an option.
Sugar Beet Harvest Clothing
Sugar Beet Harvest Clothing

Sugar Beet Harvest Clothing Tips

With the temperatures ranging between cool and windy to dropping below freezing especially during the nights, you have to anticipate the need to layer your clothing.

I can’t imagine anything worse than working a 12-hour shift feeling unprepared and uncomfortable in a miscalculated wardrobe choice I could have prevented. Plan to layer your clothing for all shifts! You can always take a layer off if you get hot but trying to find an extra sweater lying around in a pile of beets, I can only imagine would be quite difficult.

Insulated gloves, multiple pairs of broken-in boots, a few insoles or heated liners, thermal underwear, snow pants, heavy jackets, face masks, beanies, and hoodies are all recommended essentials!

The consensus seems to be that you should make a big trip to the thrift store for clothing you don’t expect to ever wear again! Apparently, the smell of Sugar Beets isn’t all that great and once the dirt gets on you, its stuck!

So prepare to get dirt, stinky and really tired.

23 Sugar Beet Harvest FAQs

  1. How long is the Sugar Beet Harvest?
    • The Sugar Beet Harvest starts on October 1st and typically lasts 10-14 working days depending on the weather.
  2. Do I have to stay beyond the 10-14 working days?
    • Yes. We require a commitment through the end of October to account for any non-working days or closures due to weather.
  3. How much money will I make at the Sugar Beet Harvest?
    • Compensation will depend on length of employment and your position. Sugar Beet Employees can make up to $3,700 in a two week time frame.
  4. Will I get to choose which site I’m stationed at?
    • Applicants are processed as they come in. Placement will be determined by matching the work site needs with applicant skill set.
  5. How far is the commute to the job site from the campground?
    • Your commute will vary depending on which job site you are assigned and which campground you are staying at. The commute can be as little as 2 miles or as far as 28.
  6. How far is the nearest grocery store for food and prescription pickups?
    • Before arriving at the Sugar Beet Harvest, it is recommended that you stock your RV with food and any medications you might need during your stay. Most towns have grocery stores that are open after your shift is over, but you may be tired from working and not honestly feel like doing routine errands after work.
  7. Is laundry available on-site at the campgrounds?
    • Some of the campgrounds have laundry facilities on-ste for your use, but not all. There are also local facilities for laundry, but the recommendation is to bring enough clothes for the full 14 day assingment.
  8. How will I be able to get my mail while working at the Sugar Beet Harvest?
    • You may not be able to pick up mail during the harvest, depending on your shift.. It’s best to check with the campground to see if you can have mail or packages sent to directly or make arrangements to receive your mail before Oct 1.
  9. What about receiving my medications?
    • You can make arrangements with the Campground Host if your campground has one or your Harvest Supervisor. They may be able to arrange for medications delivery if you have time-sensitive medications or pllan ahead to receive your meds before the harvest starts.
  10. Will I have time to let my dogs out during my shift?
    • You will not have a chance to return to your campground during your shift. Sometimes there is someone in the campground who takes on the job of pet walking for RVers.
  11. What type of clothes do I need to work at the Sugar Beet Harvest?
    • Clothes that can be layered are your best bet. Long sleeves, hoodies, jackets, thermals, ski pants etc. Loose and baggy clothing are not allowed, so make sure the clothes fit before arrival.
  12. What type of shoes do I need to work at the Sugar Beet Harvest?
    • Good hiking boots. No sneakers, rubber boots, or sandals can be worn to work.
  13. How will I be paid while working at the Sugar Beet Harvest?
    • Sugar Beet Harvest Associates can expect to be paid every other week, by direct deposit or an instant issue pay card, which can be used at banks, ATMs or stores just like a regular debit card.
  14. Do all campgrounds have full hook-ups?
    • Some campgrounds will have full-hookups for RVers. If it is not full hookups they will provide a honey wagon service twice a week.
  15. When will my job at the Sugar Beet Harvest start?
    • RVers can expect to arrive at their assigned area as early as the last week of September. Start dates may vary depending on seasonal weather conditions.
  16. How will I be updated about training and start dates for the Sugar Beet Harvest?
    • Each year a Workamper Coordinator is assigned to keep all Sugar Beet Associates informed on important things like training and start dates. You can expect to hear from this person regularly leading up to your arrival.
  17. What are the hours of shifts at the Sugar Beet Harvest?
    • Positions run 7 days a week in 12 hour shifts with one on the night shift and one on the day shift. Shifts are either 7-7 or 8-8.
  18. Can I request day shift/night shift?
    • If you prefer days/nights you can make that known during the hiring process and they will put the request in your profile, however, shifts are not guaranteed.
  19. Will I be able to work with my partner?
    • Yes. You will be assigned to the same receiving station and same shift as your partner unless you request otherwise.
  20. Can I request to work with my friends?
    • Make this request known as early as possible so the hiring team can make notes on each profile. While not guaranteed, they will try to make as many of these accommodations as possible.
  21. Can I reserve a campsite next to my friends?
    • Saving site is not always possible. So try to arrive together if being side by side is important to you.
  22. How many breaks do we get during our shifts?
    • You will get 3-4 breaks per shift each day at the Sugar Beet Harvest. Each is about 15 minutes in duration. And for meals, you will receive a longer break of at least 30 minutes.
  23. Are their places to go nearby for lunch?
    • No. You should plan to bring your lunch each day, as you are not allowed to leave the pile ground during your shift. Bringing warm beverages and soups are great options. There are microwave ovens and also water available on-site.
Sugar Beet Harvest Hiring Process
Sugar Beet Harvest Hiring Process

Sugar Beet Harvest Hiring Process

You can apply for the Sugar Beet Harvest jobs online at: https://www.theunbeetableexperience.com/apply-online/ There are separate applications for new workers as well as those returning from the previous year. IF you’re applying with a partner, each member has to submit a full application.

Also, if you’re unable to finish your Sugar Beet Harvest job application in one setting, make sure to hit SAVE and they’ll send you a link to log back in and complete it in the next 30 days. 

Who can I contact if I have questions? 

The application is pretty straightforward, but if you have any questions you can reach out to the Sugar Beet Harvest Team at 1-888-791-6738

They will contact you for more information and to discuss details to move forward.

Contact from your point person every 30-45 days leading up to the harvest.

Arrival dates and campground assignment will be given after July 4th

2021 STAY PAY Program: Sugar Beet Harvest

American Crystal is implementing a Stay Pay for Sugar Beet Harvest Workers during the 2021 season! This means they will be paying employees for time when the operation is down due to weather!

Turns out, sugar beets can only be harvested in the perfect weather conditions. When its too hot or too cold, or too wet- the operations get shut down and workers have to stay home. (This is a bummer if you’re there to work!)

Sugar Beet Harvest | Video Credit: ExpressEmployment

What does a Stay Pay at the Sugar Beet Harvest actually mean?

This means American Crystal will be paying Sugar Beet Harvest Employees for days when the operation has to be shut down due to weather! This is great news for RVers- since this is obviously outside of our control, and you’ve made a commitment to work their program in hopes of racking in BIG bucks!

The Stay Pay rules are as follows.

  • Employee will be paid a minimum of 4 hours for days when Sugar Beet Harvest Operations are shut down due to weather.
  • If the shut down happens Monday- Friday it will be paid at regular time.
  • If the shut down happens Saturday or Sunday it will be paid at overtime rate.
  • Employees will have to report to work on their next scheduled shift and punch in to receive the stay pay.
  • This only applies to stock pile harvest, not pre-harvest.
  • Employees need to call the harvest hotline prior to their shift, and if they say you have to report to work, then you’ll have to report to work in order to receive your Stay Pay.

Overall this is great news for everyone working the Harvest this year!

Sugar Beet Harvest Contact Details

Web: https://www.theunbeetableexperience.com

Phone: (888) 791-6738


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