High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Author Archives: Janel Schemper

Janel: One Day At A Time
Janel Schemper

Pierre, South Dakota – We’ve been in the Pierre, South Dakota area since mid-July and we’ve been working but it’s been a slow progress. We’ve dealt with several rain showers (which have brought some relief from the summer drought), high humidity and a few cloudy days.  It’s also been one day at a time waiting on fields of spring wheat to ripen.  It takes heat, wind and lots of sunshine to get the wheat to ripen and lately the temperature has been mostly in just the high seventies.

We could finish here in South Dakota pretty soon if the weather would just cooperate.  Today, it’s cloudy with high humidity.  We need the sun to shine so we can get done before it rains again!  The last few fields of spring wheat we harvested yielded 38 to 50 bushels per acre.  The protein has been 17-20 percent and the test weights have been 55 to 59 pounds.  That’s pretty good for a drought year.  The later planted wheat on summer fallow was more successful this year.  I had a Harvest USA report with Howard Hale a week ago and we discussed how the wheat acres were short this year and there are lots of row crops planted including soybeans, corn and sunflowers. 

When we get all finished up here we will be moving up to North Dakota (one of my favorite states on our route) to harvest spring wheat and canola. North Dakota is an amazing place to be and the people there are simply great.  I enjoy all of our harvest days spent there!  I look forward to the cool mornings and evenings as well as harvesting good crops!  I’m also excited to go to a private garden we are welcome to each year to get sweet corn, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and lots of great vegetables.  My favorite garden fresh vegetables are North Dakota tomatoes!  Yum!

Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
This is our harvest mood captured in a photo! Moo and I cutting wheat in South Dakota.  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Miss Moo is one of a kind in every way. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
It was such a beautiful evening I just took a few seconds to get out of the combine and take a quick picture of this volunteer sunflower in the wheat field!  It was pretty!  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I love wheat harvest and all of the beautiful fields I get to cut with my Dad! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Miss Moo loves her job! Here we are harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat at night near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Harvesting spring wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
Cutting wheat near Pierre, South Dakota. This spring wheat yielded 50 bushels per acre.  The later planted wheat on summer fallow was more successful this year.  (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I’ve been harvesting wheat here in the Pierre, South Dakota area since mid-July and have seen a beautiful orange moon several nights lately and it’s always very pretty! (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
A volunteer sunflower in a wheat field I harvested near Pierre, South Dakota. (Photo by Janel Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
I enjoy washing our equipment and trucks especially when it’s warm outside. Here I am washing the tractor. (Photo by Carlene Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - South Dakota Wheat Harvest
This is grain bin work. (Photo by Janel Schemper)


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

Janel: Montana Nearly Complete
Janel Schemper

Great Falls, Montana – Our crews in Montana will be finishing up soon. They have been harvesting there since mid-July and have kept busy and had decent harvest weather. I asked my brothers JC and Jared for a crop report and pictures and they delivered. The spring wheat made 43 bushels an acre for an average, the test weights were 58 and 59 pounds and the protein was 15% plus. The chickpeas made 35 to 40 bushels per acre and did very well. They’ll be finishing up on lentils soon and they’ve been yielding 27 bushels per acre for an average.  

When they finish up in Montana they’ll be going to North Dakota next to harvest spring wheat and canola. Our 10 day forecast for our next stop is mostly sunny and seventy degree weather. However, there are a few days in there with a chance of storms. 

Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting lentils near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. It’s nice harvesting right next to the elevator where the grain is being hauled.  That’s a beautiful field of wheat! (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
This is my nephew Sage Schemper at Shep’s burial site. Shep was a sheep dog. This is a tourist attraction in Fort Benton, Montana. If you read the story about Shep you’ll understand he was forever faithful.  (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting wheat near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. They unload the chickpeas onto the truck instead of using a tractor grain cart that way the grain is handled less.  (Photo by Jared Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting unloading at the elevator near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)
Schemper 2017 - Montana Harvest
Schemper Harvesting cutting chickpeas near Great Falls, Montana. (Photo by JC Schemper)


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

Janel: Drying days wanted
Janel Schemper

Pierre, South Dakota – We are slowly making progress. We have been here a couple of weeks now and for the most part have spent most of our time waiting on spring wheat to ripen. We have cut a few fields (some have been hailed on), and overall the wheat is yielding around 30 bushels per acre. The protein has been 17-20 percent, which is excellent. However, the wheat is light, weighing about 55 pounds or so. The wheat is standing good, and the conditions have been fair. What we really need are some good drying days, including lots of heat and wind. That would help our wheat harvesting progress a lot. Continue Reading

Janel: Montana aka Big Sky Country
Janel Schemper

Fort Benton, Montana – Last year 25 percent of our crew went to Montana.  This year 75 percent of our crew went to Montana to harvest winter wheat, spring wheat, chick peas and lentils. They have been there for about ten days and have been harvesting full blast nearly every day.

The winter wheat has been averaging over 60 bushels an acre, 62 pounds and 13-14 percent protein.  Sounds good to me!  It took the crew three days to get all of the equipment from Western Nebraska up to Montana, so I hope they have the best of luck there and continue getting in some big days of harvesting! Continue Reading

Janel: What’s it going to be?
Janel Schemper

Pierre, South Dakota – We made the big trip from Western Nebraska up to the Pierre, South Dakota area, and there is definitely a big ole drought going on. I was told that there really hasn’t been any rain at home in Nebraska since May, and South Dakota looks to be the same way. I could see the drought results as I traveled across Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota last week. Kansas looked alright, but as soon as I was in Nebraska I could see it. And it became worse as I traveled into South Dakota.

On the way up here we ran into road construction at Mission, South Dakota. There was a sign at Valentine, Nebraska that said road construction and width restriction 31 miles ahead. We asked around in Valentine; and everyone said they had seen lots of combines going north, and we could get through there. We got up to Mission, and there it was. There they were working on the main street that we travel, and our wide loads couldn’t fit through because of the cones. I wonder how many combines have just been hauled through there anyway. A local was nice enough to stop and tell us to turn around at the school, go back a mile and then head west on the gravel. Then at the dead end, go north up to Highway 18 and we would be back on the right track again to Highway 83 north. There was no detour route sign anywhere. For goodness sakes, why not? Continue Reading

Janel: It was fun while it lasted
Janel Schemper

Western Nebraska – This year I was in Kansas longer than expected due to the evening rain showers. We couldn’t ever work really late like we needed to and put in our time because we’d get shut down by the rain most evenings. The weather really messed with us. 

Thankfully, my brother Jared and Uncle Lonny were able to harvest most all of our wheat jobs in Western Nebraska before we got there. We did still get to stop there and cut for a few days, which was great. Disappointingly, the wheat I cut didn’t yield well due to mosaic disease. The wheat looked decent from the road, but the mosaic disease really got to it this year. However, Western Nebraska has some of the most beautiful sunsets with such beautiful colors. I didn’t get to cut there long enough this year to enjoy them.  Continue Reading

Janel: Harvest ups and downs
Janel Schemper

Goodland, Kansas – We’ve been harvesting wheat every single day here on the Kansas/Colorado state line, which is great. However, we’ve been getting little rain showers almost every evening around 9 p.m. causing us to have to quit early most nights. These little rain showers usually just make a mess of the equipment. The dust and the chaff on the combines and blue headers get stuck on badly with the rain drops, and every morning we’re kept busy blowing off the combines. And I get my biggest workout of the day in washing windows like crazy. Washing windows every single day gets old, but it is part of harvesting and the weather. 

When we see the storms showing up in the west, we almost always have a threat of hail. Disappointingly, we did have some hail out of one or two of the clouds. Harvesting wheat that’s been hailed on and a few acres of wheat with mosaic disease takes all of the fun out of it. Both are definitely disastrous to the wheat crop. That’s just the way it is sometimes. We have had plenty of good wheat to cut though for the most part. The wheat yielded 60-80 bushels per acre. The test weights were 60-63 pounds, and the protein ran at mostly 10 but was 12-plus sometimes.   Continue Reading

Janel: Drought report ahead
Janel Schemper

Goodland, Kansas – We’ve been busy harvesting wheat since May and will be busy for a few more weeks; but I am sorry to report that after we’re finished cutting wheat in Kansas, Colorado and Western Nebraska, we’re not sure what we’ll have to cut up north. South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana are in a severe drought and there are reports of no winter wheat at all and the spring wheat is going to be a really sorry crop this year due to the drought. Harvesters have to have income to make payments. If there is no income, payments are not made. Harvesters count on Montana and the Dakotas for big acres and yields to complete their summer wheat run. 

Custom harvesting is certainly a risky business to be in due to Mother Nature – no doubt about it. Mother Nature can be so good, but she can also be so bad. One bad harvest run can ruin a harvester’s business. This drought is seriously bad for us harvesters. We’re all stressed out just thinking about it. No joke, I even had a report of freeze damage in South Dakota on June 24th. Crazy, I know. Whatever wheat turns black is a result of the freeze damage, so you just have to wait and see what areas got hit. We’ll know what we’ve got when we get up north later this month. Continue Reading

Janel: Early mornings and late nights
Janel Schemper

Goodland, Kansas – It’s been early mornings and late nights (also known as 24/7 eat, sleep, truck and combine) for many consecutive days now. You won’t hear me complain though. I hope it continues. Working makes me happy and is when I feel my very best! I feel blessed to have the ability to work and make an honest living in this great country. Having the opportunity to get to work all day every day is amazing. 

I’m happy to share what I’ve been seeing out in the Kansas wheat fields. We were in the Dodge City area and had wheat cutting weather for the most part, including heat and humidity under 50 percent during the day. We did get sprinkled out with just a few rain drops three evenings in a row. However, an early evening in from the field is always an excellent opportunity to catch up on rest, even if it is already 8 or 9 p.m. The wheat was pretty good again this year and yielded in the 50 to 70 bushels per acre range, and almost all of the test weights were 61 to 63 pounds. I did harvest a field that didn’t yield so well due to mosaic disease. It is a major problem and causes significant yield loss. Continue Reading

Janel: Blue header time – yea!
Janel Schemper

Dodge City, Kansas – I love this time of year. I get to use my blue Shelbourne Reynolds header for wheat harvest at two of our stops here in Kansas.  A stripper header is annoyingly expensive but is fun to run. I love blue header time.   When I began harvesting with a Shelbourne Reynolds header 5-plus years ago, I was not happy about it. I just kept thinking about the added machinery expense and operation cost. The custom harvesting business has big risks and having another header to harvest wheat seemed so silly to me. Also, the government doesn’t have a program to insure our costs. There is no government program for the custom harvesting business. Also, learning to operate “another” piece of machinery just seemed ridiculous. However, my attitude changed very quickly, and it’s a super header to operate. My combine never runs out of horsepower having a blue header in front of it. There are many advantages with using a blue header, but I’ll discuss more at another time. It’s a whole different concept.

Continue Reading