In October, many RVers head up north to work at the piling stations during the Sugar Beet Harvest. The hours are long and the weather is cold, but the pay is worth it. Many RVers will be participating in this agricultural adventure for the first time and may have questions.
What should I bring?
Sugar beets can’t be piled if the temperature rises above 55 degrees Fahrenheit because they start to rot. So when inquiring about how cold it will be, the answer is below 55. If you are working night shift, the temperature may hover in the 20s and 30s.
You will want to bring a good cold weather coat and some insulated pants. Snow pants worked for us because they could be worn over any base layers. You will need some sort of head and neck covering. Boots and gloves are a must, too.
The gloves should keep you warm put allow some dexterity as well. I opted for a thinner set of gloves and kept disposable hand warmers in the gloves and my pockets. Waterproof hiking boots keep your feet warm.
Layering is the key to comfort.
Layer one, the base layer, is the article of clothing closest to your skin. It’s important that sweat and moisture are drawn away from the skin, so this layer should be made of a good wicking material. These are synthetic fibers like polyester, polypropylene and natural fibers like merino wool. Layer two can be a shirt, any shirt will do. Stick with breathable fabric; avoid cotton.
Layer three should be what Natalie and I call the poofy layer. This is the layer that holds in most of the heat. Fleece sweaters and jackets are optimal. I was usually comfortable with a sweater and a ski jacket liner. The outer layer should be something that holds back the wind and is waterproof such as a jacket shell and ski pants. The more outside air you can keep off your body, the warmer you will be.
Layering in this fashion allows room to add or take away layers as needed. If you start to get warm, you start taking layers off. The day shift workers would start bundled up and strip layers as the day warmed up. The night shift started lighter and added more as the night got cold.
Bargain shopping is the way to go.
If you already have a lot of old clothes that meet these specifications, you are set. If you need to buy additional layers, keep in mind that the beet harvest is a dirty, muddy job. The clothes you wear will get smudged, caked, stained and in some cases completely ruined. Buying brand new cold weather clothes is not cost effective. We went to thrift stores and searched through the winter wear. We found that when layering, having clothing a size or two bigger made dressing easier. We were able to find sweaters and jackets a plenty for very cheap prices.
Boots and socks should be top notch though. The beet harvest requires about twelve hours of standing for many days in a row. You are going to want a comfortable boot that is waterproof and has a good tread. We went to a sporting goods store that sold hiking gear to purchase our wool socks and boots.Walmart is a great place to find base layers. We purchased gloves and disposable hand warmers. The hunting and camping section has a good selection of outer, insulating layers.
Keep these extra tips in mind.
It’s a good idea to keep a couple of boxes in your car during the harvest. One of them should be for extra clothes and layers. If a piece of clothing gets wet or ragged, it’s nice to have a second on hand.
The other box should be for shoes. We took our tennis shoes to work in the box. At the end of the shift, we took off the muddy boots and kept them in the box to avoid messes.
Buy lots of hand and toe warmers. If the weather drops below the 20s, layering may not be enough. We found that hand warmers can be placed anywhere and they last most of the shift.