A harvester dumps sugar beets into a large wagon riding alongside it.

Make Money on the Road By Harvesting Beets

Have you heard of the Sugar Beet Harvest? It’s a yearly event bringing hundreds of RVers willing to work hard for a short time.

If you’re looking to make a few thousand dollars in about a month and can be on your feet for 12 hours a day, the Sugar Beet Harvest might be a worthwhile opportunity. Let’s learn more!

A harvester dumps sugar beets into a large wagon riding alongside it.

What Is the Sugar Beet Harvest?

Every fall, people harvest sugar beets across 45 receiving stations in two main areas of the Midwest: the Red River Valley and Sidney, Montana. Workers harvest over ten million tons of beets within a month.

The ground temperature must remain at a certain level, so the sugar beets don’t lose their sugar content. This is why the harvest happens so quickly.

Workampers make up about 48% of the seasonal employees to help harvest all those beets in a short time. 

Who Are the Sugar Beet Growers?

The American Crystal Sugar Company factories are in Crookston, East Grand Forks, and Moorhead, Minnesota. They have more factories in Drayton and Hillsboro, North Dakota, and Sidney, Montana. The Sidney Sugars factory is also in Sidney, Montana.

In 2002, American Crystal Sugar Company bought the Holly Sugar factory from Imperial Sugar Company and named it Sidney Sugars Incorporated. Sidney Sugars operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Crystal Sugar Company.

Two workers hold up gigantic sugar beets standing next to a garden.

During the year, the American Crystal Sugar Company employs about 1,400 full-time employees. However, during the sugar beet harvest, third-party agencies help hire approximately 1,300 additional workers. Many of these workers are RVers who come yearly to work for a few weeks.

Looking for more gigs on the road? Check out these 7 jobs for USA nomads.

Jobs at the Sugar Beet Harvest

There are a few different jobs you can apply for at the Sugar Beet Harvest. Some require no previous knowledge or skill set, while others require some machine operation experience.

However, all jobs operate seven days a week in 12-hour shifts, weather permitting. 

Get a glimpse into what to expect working at the Sugar Beet Harvest.

Helper and Sample Taker

These positions require workers to help the piler operator clean and maintain the area. They communicate with drivers to ensure the safe unloading of the trucks.

They also take samples when needed. These are the bulk of the workers, and the duties require workers to be on their feet during the entire shift.

Piler Operator

A piler operator must have some experience working the Sugar Beet Harvest. This is not a position for a typical first-year seasonal employee. A piler operator makes the sugar beet piles.

Having previous machinery experience is essential since you initiate the piler control switches. Attention to detail is also vital for piler operators.

Sugar beets getting piles high into mounds after being harvested.

Skid Steer Operator

A skid steer operator must have some experience operating a skid steer. These operators are responsible for placing deep freeze pipes into the piles.

Attention to detail is also crucial for this position since you’ll operate a machine around many workers on the ground. This position requires an audition.

What Is It Like Working at the Sugar Beet Harvest?

The Sugar Beet Harvest isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s challenging work and long hours. You’re on your feet for 12 hours each day until the harvest is complete. There are no days off.

Sometimes you’ll encounter winter weather conditions, so having the proper attire is very important. You probably won’t have time to do laundry, so you’ll need clothes to last you for two or three weeks.

The start of the sugar beet harvest on a beautiful sunny fall day in the Red River Valley in MN

Not only is it cold, but the work is also dirty. You’re working in fields, handling sugar beets, so expect to return to your camper needing a shower and a clean set of clothes the following day.

However, it’s a short time commitment. Generally, the harvest is the month of October, so RVers arrive the last week of September for orientation. At the end of October, the work is usually over. The time frame depends on the weather.

How Are You Paid?

Payday is every other Friday. Wages start at $16.90/hour. The first eight hours are straight time, while the last four hours are overtime. Saturday and Sunday are also overtime.

If you stay the entire harvest, you may also receive an end-of-harvest bonus. If you don’t have a direct deposit, you’ll receive an instant issue pay card.

Where Do You Stay?

The company provides campgrounds for RVers. If they aren’t full hook-ups, you’ll have a honey wagon service without cost.

You will drive into your harvesting location from the campground. This might be only a couple of miles, or it could be over 20 miles.

You will not return to your camper until your shift ends and will bring your lunch to your harvesting location.

What Is the Application Process?

The application process is quite simple. The Sugar Beet Harvest website has an online application form. You must provide work eligibility documents.

After filling out the application, a Workamper Coordinator will contact you to match your skills to the correct job position. As the harvesting time approaches, you’ll receive your campground assignment and in-office orientation date and time.

Is Working the Sugar Beet Harvest Worth It?

Employees can make up to $3,700 at the Sugar Beet Harvest. If you can withstand the difficult working conditions, it’s an excellent opportunity to earn money in a short amount of time.

Plus, it allows RVers to continue traveling without making a huge time commitment. While a camp host may have to stay in the exact location for six months, Sugar Beet Harvest employees only commit to about one month.

Do you have it in you? Will you be applying for a job with the Sugar Beet Harvest this year?

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