August 22, 2017

Gerry Reichenbach, a retired sugarbeet grower, emigrated from West Germany to Oklahoma in 1951 with his family and 4 siblings when he was 12. Ron Tulsa sponsored their family, so they stayed with him for a year. Two short years later, he and his family moved again to North Dakota.

Gerry was drawn to farming from a young age. He worked on his neighbor’s farm for seven years while living with his parents. His dad was a sugarbeet farmer, which was largely influential in his life because Gerry also became a farmer after he married in his early twenties. He “dreamt of something that would kill weeds” and not the sugarbeet. He grew sugarbeets, alfalfa, hay, oats, and wheat, using crop rotation. He had sheep as well, so he liked that the beet leaves could be a by-product for them. He recalls that farming was not always great, but it was a way of life for him. Despite this, he said that sugarbeets were always a good cash crop.

Gerry farmed his own crop until 2007 or 2008, when he retired. However, he still does irrigation on his farmland that he leases out to other growers.

Currently, Gerry is staying busy in his retired life. He attends his grandchildren’s sports events, mainly basketball and volleyball. He also has does some traveling. During the summer time, he does road trips. He brought his wife to see the ocean, went to San Francisco with his son and also traveled to Washington, D.C.

Gerry is an advocate for GMO sugarbeets. He explained that it was tough to farm before GMOs were developed because of weeds and diseases. He calls GMO sugarbeets a “miracle” because they bring less expense to growers. The expense of the seed outweighs the cost to maintain the crop. In addition, he noted that there is less pollution from GMO sugarbeets in comparison to using chemicals on sugarbeets for weeds. “Tests are done so that people and animals are not hurt. It’s the best thing that has happened to farming.” So we asked him, “If your children or grandchildren asked you if GMO sugarbeets are safe, what would you tell them?” His response was that sugarbeet “seeds have been tested and re-tested.” The final product is the same chemically in comparison to sugar from a non-GMO beet. “There should be no worries.” He then used an analogy to compare GMO beets and humans. “Just like human sickness, we have gotten better with the process.” GMO sugarbeets have quite a few benefits, as Gerry Reichenbach has explained. We hope that others realize this as well.

Betaseed, Inc., headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota, is North America’s premier sugarbeet seed company.  From our start in 1970, Betaseed has maintained a longstanding commitment to the beet sugar industry, with research and seed production operations in several states and marketing seed to all sugarbeet markets.  Our mission is to develop the best performing seed products and services through innovative people, plant breeding, and seed technology.