Sugar Producer

November/December 2015

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14 Sugar Producer NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 For the Adams family of Grand Forks, N.D., last season's harvest was practically made-to-order. "Conditions were ideal, and we only had one shutdown," said Chris Adams. "It was very dry, but we were done quickly. It was the smoothest harvest we've ever had. Planting was late because of the wet spring, but there was average sugar content and the average yield was close to 30 tons per acre." Chris and his parents, Steve and Darla, operate the Adams Family Farm, which covers 6,500 acres in the Red River Valley region of North Dakota and Minnesota. The family grows around 1,900 acres of sugarbeets, as well as hard red spring wheat and dry beans, including dark red kidneys, pinks and cranberries. Keys to success Although Mother Nature has the final say, the Adams' key strategies to a successful farming operation are innovation, education and diversification, along with good old-fashioned hard work. "We told Chris early on to never ask anyone to do something he wouldn't do himself," said Darla Adams. "He started at an early age, did the grunt work and worked his way up." Steve, 54, and Darla, 53, both of Grand Forks, met in high school and were married in 1981. Darla is a nurse anesthetist with a doctorate in teaching and learning and is the associate dean of the College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines at the University of North Dakota. "When we got married, we decided that Steve would farm and I would work in nursing," said Darla. "It was our way of diversifying amongst ourselves so that we wouldn't have all our eggs in one basket. My education was our insurance policy and a steady income for the family to live off of so that we could invest the farm's profits back into the farm." Steve and Darla's oldest daughter, Angela Kunz, 35, lives with her husband Josh and their four children in Grand Forks. They own Northern Valley Electrical Service Inc., an electrical contracting service that specializes in the oilfield industry and operates primarily in the Bakken formation of North Dakota. Their son, Nick Adams, 31, is a physician in Grand Rapids, Mich. He and his wife Alissa have one daughter. Chris, 28, graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2010 with a degree in biology. He met his wife, Kelsey, when they were assigned to be lab partners in organic chemistry class at UND. They were married in 2012. Their daughter Olivia is 18 months old, and the couple is expecting their second child in February. Kelsey, 28, is originally from St. Paul, Minn. She is a registered nurse and is currently studying to become a nurse practitioner. Drawn to farming Chris joined Steve in the family farm in 2011, but had to get his college education first. "We told our kids that the question was not if they would go to college but where," Darla said. While Chris briefly considered attending dental school, farming is what he always wanted to do. "His heart is in the family farm and everything else was on the backburner to that," Kelsey said. Chris is the fourth generation of the Adams family to farm in the Red River Valley. The farm was originally founded by Steve's grandparents, Ralph and Ruth Adams, in the 1930s. "They started out by renting land and borrowing equipment in Buxton, N.D," Steve said. "It was a challenging time for them. Ruth was INNOVATION TECHNOLOGY ALSO KEY G ROW E R OF T H E M ON T H Photos and Story by Laura Rutherford HARD WORK NOT ENOUGH HARD WORK NOT ENOUGH

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