High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Author Archives: Laura Haffner

Laura: The Great White Combine Strikes Again
Laura Haffner

Ellis County, Kansas- We are just wrapping up our cutting here on the eastern edge of northwest Kansas. Like so many of our jobs this season, it has also been a mixed bag of yields thanks to angry weather. It’s estimated that over three-fourths of this farmer’s wheat was damaged, and some quite severely, by hail. One of the highest yielding fields had 20 percent hail damage but still made around 60 bushels per acre. We’ve seen yield ranging from 20-60 bushels per acre and test weights hovering around 60 pounds per bushel. That’s one of the heartbreaking things about agriculture. We farmers try to do all the right things for our operations and may or may not see a positive return on that investment.   

Last night we had the pleasure of meeting wheat harvest enthusiast Dale and his wife Darlene. They are just beginning what I will call their annual “Tour de Wheat Harvest.” Yesterday had been a crazy day of logistics and planning as we are wrapping up and anticipating our next move(s). In addition, the tractor decided it had enough of harvest and quit on the road. Not only were we dealing with a frustrating situation, but also potentially dangerous as night was approaching. Continue Reading

Laura: The other half
Laura Haffner

Ellis and Rush County, Kansas – A few days ago I gave you an update for half the crew. Today I’ll give you the other half.

This part of the crew had similar issues as the one further south. We fought several days of rain and/or humidity. The wheat never completely dried down and stayed in the 12-13 percent moisture range, so it was something to be watched the entire time they were cutting. This area had some hail and disease, and we had to abandon a couple fields because there just wasn’t anything there. We saw yields anywhere from 0-55 bushels per acre.  

The elevator we hauled into was nice to work with and had great service. Let me explain. When I was out at the field, the first night they were really able to cut into the evening. I asked the question, “How late is the elevator staying open?” See, you don’t harvest until the elevator closes. You take your trucks in to dump as late as they’ll take you. Then you bring them back to the field and fill everything back up, so they’re ready to unload first thing in the morning. And this allows you a bit more precious cutting time. Continue Reading

Laura: Half a crew update
Laura Haffner

Southern Kansas – The weather was relatively uncooperative when the crew was in west central Oklahoma. They were constantly catching little showers that kept them out of the field or fighting humidity. For several days, that left very slim information to share, so things have been slow in the reporting department. But all of a sudden, harvest cut loose again, so I’m going to rush to get caught up!

The crew with Mark in Custer County, Oklahoma, saw yields ranging from the 30s to 50s. Test weights were average in the 58-60 pounds per bushel range. They finished in Oklahoma last Saturday night.
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Laura: Our afternoon with young men of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children
Laura Haffner

West central Oklahoma – As you’ve read the All Aboard Wheat Harvest blog, you have likely noticed the listing of some of our contributing sponsors in the side bar of the site page. One new to the line-up is this one:

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10-Acre Challenge


“What is this challenge and who are they?” you may ask. Well, I had to enlighten myself as well, so let me share with you what I discovered. The 10-Acre Challenge is a call for those in agriculture to donate ten acres of their crop to the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and challenge their friends to do the same.
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Laura: A different kind of harvest
Laura Haffner

Clay County, Texas – Journeying along the harvest trail in the summer is not exactly conducive to an elaborate vegetable garden though I admit I did plant a lonely cucumber and pumpkin plant for the kids in hopes it would catch just enough rain until we make it for our home stop. My lack of garden is probably why I love a good farmer’s markets on the trail. Getting produce picked at the peak of freshness and the fun of the actual market is a win-win. So when I learned of a “pick your own strawberries” event at a patch not too far down the road, I knew we had to do it to give the kids at least a partial garden experience. To put it mildly, it was a hit as you’ll see from the pictures below.
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Laura: Texas Summary
Laura Haffner

North Texas – The kids were both asleep by a tick after eight this evening. Those reading who know them well, understand that this is nothing short of a miracle. I had the camper tidied by nine, which is another miracle as it’s usually well after ten or eleven before I finish that. I don’t know how its possible with only four people, and so few belongings, but it often looks like squirrel family took up residence by the end of the day.  It seems two of the four, actually maybe one, not naming names, is the prime suspect. Now, I’m going to utilize these rare quiet moments and get caught up on the blog!

We are nearing the end of our time in Texas. In fact, Mark and some of the crew moved to Custer County, Oklahoma, and were able to start there Wednesday, May 31. The rest of us remain in north Texas but will join them in a few short days. Continue Reading

Laura: Texas Wheat Harvest Video
Laura Haffner

North Texas – To all of you wishing you were out cutting in a field or those who just need something to get you through until harvest reaches your area, I made you a little something.  Enjoy!



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

Laura: It has started!
Laura Haffner

Wichita County, Texas: May 24 – Mark it in the books – the official start to the cutting season. I had almost forgotten how I love to hear the hum of the machines. The low sound almost has a calming effect on the soul, and nothing can beat the smell of fresh cut wheat!

Due to moisture, some fields have some patches that remain to be cut, so we don’t have official yield data to report yet. Test weights are coming in around 58 lbs per bushel. Hail damage has affected yields, and some fields have been zeroed out at our first stop. Today’s forecast shows a high of 99, and tomorrow shows 101 with a little wind. It should be prime cutting weather, if we can avoid the small chances for rain in the forecast. Continue Reading

Laura: When the rains come to stay, the crew will play!
Laura Haffner

Wichita County, Texas – After a couple seasons of life on the road under my belt, I’m packing lighter and lighter all the time. I don’t have time, energy or space in our camper house to deal with unnecessary clutter. So, I debated bringing the kids’ mud boots this year. Surely we wouldn’t need them for a third year in a row. I finally threw them in as a mind game and insurance policy against the imaginary Texas harvest rain gods because if we had them, we wouldn’t need them, right? Wrong. With grain moisture around 15%, we were just on the verge of being able to cut when the rains started. As I’ve stated many times in my writing, I have a terrible time wishing away rain when I come from an arid area and armed with the knowledge that this region broke out of a terrible drought just two years ago. However, the Texas weather systems and I need to have a little chat, because these harvest rains are starting to be a thing!
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Laura: Mom Guilt
Laura Haffner

Kansas –  For months Little Man’s prayers have been harvest/travel themed and have sounded something like this or a variation thereof, “Dear God, please watch over the combines, the wheat, the blue headers, the camper house, the splash park, and the swimming pool. AMEN!”

Just the other day we helped play musical vehicles with Ryan, which allowed us to pay a visit to headquarters where a beehive of preharvest prep was taking place. One of the crew members expressed his excitement for heading south and getting the cutting season going. He then asked me if I was excited about harvest.
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