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One of two Ropa 'Tiger' harvesters owned by the Roggenbucks. Photo: Don Lilleboe
Were it not for the American-made semis rumbling to and from field perimeters, visitors to Helena Valley Farms during the sugarbeet harvest season could be excused for wondering if they weren’t actually somewhere in Europe rather than the Thumb region of eastern Michigan. Two huge Ropa “Tiger” self-propelled harvesters move up and down the field, each dumping its topped and lifted beets into a 34-ton-capacity “Big Bear” track cart. The cart in turn unloads its contents on field headlands, where the beets sit for at least a couple days before being run through a self-propelled “Maus” — another Ropa-built unit that cleans and loads the piled beets into trucks for the trip to the factory.