The Roundup -

Agricultural Manager Russ Fullmer Retires After 30 Years In The Sugar Beet Industry


Russ Fullmer, who has worked as the Agricultural Manager for Sidney Sugars since 1999, is retiring after 30 years in the sugar beet industry. Fullmer began working at the Sidney factory in 1985 as an Agriculturalist and after four years was transferred to California. In 1993, he was promoted to Agricultural Manager and moved to Wyoming where he worked for six years before returning to Sidney.

Space planting has been one of two impactful changes in growing sugar beets; for many years sugar beets were planted very thickly and workers were hired to thin them. This was hard manual labor that took hours, but in the mid 1980s Plant to Stand was introduced which is a coating around each seed that makes planting easier, allowing more space between plants with less need to thin.

The introduction of GMO Roundup Ready Beets in 1999 was the second big change for beet farmers as they cut down on weed growth in the fields. “Roundup Ready Beets allowed growers to have weed-free fields and the yield increased tremendously. There was a seven to eight ton increase per acre,” said Fullmer. “Fighting weeds was becoming a losing battle so when they introduced Roundup Ready Beets it saved the industry.”

He notes that one of the things he’s enjoyed most about his career has been the friendly competitive nature of the industry. “I’ve always been impressed with this factory and the growing area. Because of the growing conditions, this area is capable of producing the best sugar beets in the nation in terms of tons and sugar quality. The industry watches what we do here because of that,” Fullmer commented.

Fullmer is ready for his final harvest, noting that the growing season was a good one despite some hail and that the Quality Lab has shown good sugar content so far. After retirement he and his wife plan on eventually moving back to Wyoming, where he’s originally from. “I’ll miss it, but it’s time to retire. I am the last one of the original staff I started with back in 1985 to retire. It’s good to have younger people with new ideas take over.”

December 18, 2015 will be Fullmer’s last day at the factory with Agriculturalist Duane Peters taking over as Agricultural Manager.


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