All Aboard Harvest | Sublette, Kansas – It’s not pretty, but it’s progress…
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Sublette, Kansas – It’s not pretty, but it’s progress…

Sublette, Kansas – It’s not pretty, but it’s progress…

Sublette, Kansas:

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Harvesting in Sublette, Kasas. This is the best of the best dry land crop…the fewest weeds. Most fields are yielding between 15-25 bushels per acre. Test weight is poor, often 56 lbs. We have heard of some in the 40s!

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After 4-5″ of rain over most fields, we were surprised the mud was not worse. The John Deere combine is 4-wheel-drive and the ground had dried just enough to be able to push through and harvest the grain in most fields.

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The final fields had more low spots, so we strategically left those fields last so they could dry up as much as possible. Still, standing water was easy to find and many passes had long stretches of mud. You couldn’t have harvested these areas without 4×4. The mud ads another layer of stress, takes a lot of effort to wash off such a large machine, and causes temporary panic attack when you nearly get stuck! We hope this is the last of the mud for 2018 harvest, but are thankful to have a machine capable of handling these tough scenarios.

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The worst of the worst….an example of an abandoned field that will never be harvested. Such thin, poor wheat was easily overtaken by weeds after plentiful rain accelerated their growth. It’s sad to try and understand how discouraging this must make local farmers feel…a lot of money, hard work and planning went into raising this crop with nothing in return. No doubt there will be plenty of financial stress to shoulder as farmers will have staggeringly low incomes from their wheat crop this year.

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An all-too-common site while harvesting here in SW Kansas. Too much wet, weedy material and not enough dry wheat straw to mix in and allow the machine to discharge the material out the straw chopper. This has to be cleaned out by hand, and I have the green-stained skin on my arms to prove it! How long will it take for my skin to return to it’s normal shade? These weeds have created a lot of heartache for everyone this year…

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A ground-level view of the short, thin wheat. Cutting so close to the ground becomes very challenging, and that forces the machine to intake more green, wet weeds…a recipe for disaster. See the plugged straw chopper photo above. Muddy ground conditions also mean the machine can quickly, and unexpectedly, sink into the ground. This forces the wheat head to make contact with the ground and increases the chance for getting dirt into the header. Just another time-robbing, back-breaking task on a 100 degree day…digging wet dirt out of the center of the header. This also proved to be an all-to-common heartache while harvesting. Lets hope weed-free, dry conditions lie ahead of us for the balance of the summer.

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura can be reached at brian@allaboardharvest.com.

5 Comments
  • Nancy Eberts
    Posted at 18:04h, 03 July

    This was truly informative and ‘spot on’!
    It is what is happening and what we as custom harvesters deal with, not only this year but many times over the years. Thank you
    Your a great voice for this industry.

  • Judy Wedemeyer
    Posted at 10:01h, 04 July

    Brian,
    We really enjoy your stories and the time it takes for you to produce this blog online and in the Journal. I look forward to reading to see the progress. We as Adair County Iowa farmers are excited to finally find out what that Jones family is up to. Always interesting to find out how farmers in other parts of the country operate. Good Luck and God’s Blessings as you harvest along. Hope the conditions improve for you and for those farmers.

  • Charles Warner
    Posted at 10:20h, 04 July

    We harvested for 21 years and had many situations like you face now. It almost seems hopeless fighting mud and weeds at the same time. We really feel for you and understand what you’re up against

  • Harry and Sharon Drake
    Posted at 22:10h, 04 July

    Brian, thank you for your good report about your harvesting issues. Sounds like your sinuses are plugged also. That makes for hard to breath and think. Hope the rest of the trip is smooth. You and your crew take care. Harry and Sharon Drake, south central kansas

  • Tom Stockard
    Posted at 09:58h, 05 July

    Brian, 4WD is a great improvement in combines. Back when we ran L2’s, before Mud Hogs, 30.5×32 rice on backwards, spin in, till “no more”, try to back out, or get “long cabled out”. Unload I/2 bin, dig the mud out of the header, bust the mud from the wheel scrapers, check for mud damage, and go back at it again and again, until moisture got high. Hard on equipment and hard on people.
    The problem was then trying to plow when the clay ground finally dried those 3 foot wide, 2 foot deep, dual canyons that careened, in all directions, across the fields. Often would take 8 hours to “creep, jump and bang” across 50 acres. The rut damages were visible two years later in the wheat stands and yields, on the combines for a lifetime.
    Try to repeat, often, “This too; shall pass.”