SIDNEY, Mont. – The beautifully-scented green hops were harvested just in time as the skies started to grow dark last week.
“All the hops were harvested and they smell absolutely delicious,” said Sarah Rachor, who farms with her dad, Mike Degn, south of Sidney.
The Degn and Rachor families, along with a few others, set up the trailer underneath the hops and cut down the crop. The papery hop cones are cut down while still green, and scent plays an important role.
“Hops give beer their aroma and flavor,” Sarah said.
From the trailer, the team picked the hops carefully, dried them and packed them into bags.
They worked so hard all day they were ready for a fresh beer at their local Sidney brewery.
“Fortunately, we got our hops cut and dried before the rain came,” she said.
Last week, it rained and rained some more.
“It’s hard to believe but we received around 6 inches of rain last week,” Sarah said. It rained once during the week, and then again on Saturday (Sept. 7). “There’s quite a bit of mud. Dad tried running a leveler around to see if he could even out the mud and help it dry out.”
The fields are muddy, along with all the ground between the shop and the house. It is difficult to get into the fields right now, but fortunately all the spring wheat is in the bin.
At the beet growers meeting on Sept. 13, growers and Sidney Sugars decided to hold off with the sugarbeet pre-pile for a couple of weeks. In fact, the regular beet harvest will probably start sometime between Sept. 24-28.
“They decided to put the harvest off because it is too muddy. You can’t bring machines into the fields or get trucks to the pilers in the factory yard,” she said.
Sarah is glad she will have two more weeks to grow her beets. They were late being planted, as all the beets in the region were, and could use some more sunshine to grow and add sugar.
“They did their last root pull, which measures tonnage and sugar, last week,” she said. The beets need some more sunshine, and on Sept. 13, the area had its first actual bright sunshine-‘y’ afternoon in a week, with temps rising into the mid-60s.
“We were tired of being in the house, so we got out and walked around to get a little sun,” Sarah said.
Out in the fields, the soybeans are growing tall and turning yellow. They have a ways to go before they are mature and dry enough for harvest, however.
Sarah has been doing maintenance on the beet harvest machines so they will be ready to go. In addition to the trucks they used for wheat harvest, they use a defoliator, which cuts the tops off the beets. Then they drive a digger, which digs the beets as a roller and ‘grab rolls’ roll the beets around to the ferris wheel and onto a truck.
Meanwhile, Sarah will be turning 39 on Sept. 24, and hopes to enjoy a night out before beet harvest begins.
“It has been a tradition for our family to go out to Stonehome Brew Pub in Watford City, N.D.,” she added.