Pratt, Kansas – I just spent two days getting equipment moved from the Weatherford, Oklahoma area up to the Pratt, Kansas area; and on the way I saw combines cutting everywhere along the highways we traveled. Most were custom harvesters but some were farmers, and a few looked to be like farmers helping farmers. For the most part, the ground conditions looked dry, but on the Oklahoma/Kansas border I saw that there were a few fields that got tracked up really pretty badly. Wheat was left uncut in the fields, because the ground would not hold the combine up. Getting stuck is no fun, so they left it for another day when the ground will be drier. We did get caught back up to the harvest at Pratt, where the wheat is just borderline ready. The highway is full of combines too. The harvesters keep coming through Pratt loaded up and heading north. I’m sure wheat harvest here will be in full swing in just a day or two, depending on what the weather does.
The Oklahoma wheat harvest wasn’t the best for us this year. I hope the Oklahoma farmers have a better wheat crop next year, and the price of wheat goes up! I cut wheat that averaged 15 to 45 bushels per acre with test weights anywhere from 54 to 63 pounds. A few fields were hailed on, causing the lower yields. Some wheat that I cut was really clean, yielded well and had good test weight. Some wheat wasn’t so clean- included rye, cheat and goat grass- and didn’t yield too well. We didn’t have the best of luck this year in Oklahoma. Lately it seems like it is just one thing after another going wrong for us. In other words, when it rains, it pours. We had two trucks that had to be worked on in Weatherford and another one in Oklahoma City. We lost a pickup transmission (which had a warranty, but was timely problem) among other things. There will be better days ahead but disappointments can really weigh a person down. We also dealt with a lot of high humidity days in Oklahoma, and that makes the cutting conditions tough. Again, I hope for better luck in Oklahoma next year for the farmers and harvesters.
On a lighter note, I see wild hogs in the same field we cut every year. The big ones look like they could weigh about 450 pounds, and I can’t believe how fast they can run. I was combining along a terrace, and to my surprise I spooked about twenty hogs that were hanging out in a terrace channel water hole. I tried to get a picture, but they ran away so fast. I did manage to get a video and a picture when they made another appearance later. They were just casually walking and running across the field. When we finished the field, we shut down for the night (it was evening, but still daylight), and I took time to blow off the combine. That is when I realized Moo was missing, and for a second I thought, “OMGosh Moo went hog wild, and she is running with the hogs.” I typically can count on Moo to just be sitting and watching me fuel, grease and blow off the combine; but she was gone. I went looking for her and could see the wild hogs in the distance. I was spooked for a second, but then all at once I saw my mom and Moo sitting in the truck. I was perfectly happy with that!
There was one day that we cut an 80-acre field and nearly mudded out the entire field due to having over two inches of rain while we were there. That takes all of the fun out of harvesting. When you have to work that hard at it, it’s called stress. Our combines have high and low range four-wheel drive, and for a lot of that field I had to use the low range and still nearly got stuck a couple of times. Luckily didn’t! Bad conditions will make you a good combine operator and appreciate the good conditions even more.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal
and John Deere. Janel Schemper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.