All Aboard Harvest | Laura Haffner
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Author: Laura Haffner

Extreme Southeast Colorado - I have to admit. We entered my favorite part of the season as far as the travel route goes.  We are here on the High Plains. It's not that I don't like the other places we go. That's far from it. Each place has something unique and special to offer. It's just that this is HOME. The later part of my growing-up years happened here, as did some of my adult life. Ryan still has to hear about how he took me away from southwest Kansas when we got married, which I'm sure he really appreciates. My heart will always be where my family is, but the High Plains will always have a piece of my heart. In fact, I may be willing to move my heart back if anyone is willing to donate a nice little farmstead to my cause.

Enough gushing.

My Office - Throughout the last several weeks, there has been talk from the bloggers about a disease that has been affecting the wheat. I know our All Aboard readers are a diverse group, so I thought I'd offer a little "Wheat 101" mini lesson for those who may want some more details on what we're talking about. If that may be you, keep reading. If you're comfortable with all things wheat, you can skip this one and resume with the next post!

So what is wheat streak mosaic virus, and why is it such a problem? The reason it's a problem is because it can cause significant yield reduction and cannot be treated or cured. This virus is spread by a tiny insect called a wheat curl mite. You can see a picture of it here. There are wheat varieties that are resistant; but over time, the mites can adapt, and the variety may become susceptible. The best treatment is making sure volunteer wheat in your area is taken care of, or in other words, destroyed.

Southeast Colorado - It is time for our annual marital exchange post, this one regarding field directions. Last year it involved GPS. This time it was good old-fashioned verbal conversation. It went something like this, or at least this is how I remember it. The account may or may not be slightly exaggerated for effect, but I think it's closer than not to what happened.

Me: "I'm going south on that highway you said. Where do I need to turn?"

Ryan: "It's about x* miles south. Go until you get to the big bin, and go another x miles south. Then you'll go east to the dead end. You'll see us. Can't miss us."

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.

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.

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.

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:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="464"]Untitled 10-Acre Challenge[/caption]

"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.

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.

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.

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! [embed]https://youtu.be/P7zQ6Smn_cc[/embed]All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John...