All Aboard Harvest | High Plains Journal
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High Plains Journal

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.

Garden City, Kansas - My oh my... the days certainly run into each other, and the weeks are gone before you know it! We left home four weeks ago this past Sunday (7/2). Seems like a whirlwind of events since we pulled away from the driveway as Taylor and Jenna were waving goodbye. 
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="768"]Z Crew: Because it's what harvesters do! Because it's what harvesters do! (Photo credit: Nancy Eberts)[/caption]So, let's have an update. 

Dodge City, Kansas - Once the harvest stops in Kansas have all been completed, the rest of harvest becomes a blur. I was thinking today how far we have come as a crew. I say this in the sense of a rhythm - a groove that a crew gets into. Everyone gets acclimated to how everyone else works, and things just go smoother. The farmers in Texas versus the farmers in Nebraska see two different crews.

We were able to finish up in Dodge, and we will be heading to our fifth stop on the harvest run - Sidney, Nebraska. We brought one of two combines up here today, and the wheat is still a bit green along with the inch of rain the area received this afternoon (07/03). The wheat we cut in Dodge ran anywhere from 60-100 bushels per acre, and the test weight averaged 60 pounds.

That being said, Farmer Chris here in Dodge City bid Anderson Harvesting off with an awesome barbecue for a job well done. There were hamburgers, brats, brownies... you name it. Farmer Chris' wife, Eileena, made some of the most delicious potato salad I have ever had in my life, and the evening was full of laughter and conversation.

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.

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.

Durham, Oklahoma- Whew! It has been a whirlwind of a month to say the least. I’m not sure where June went, but it was here and gone before I knew it. We’ve been busy with a little bit of everything and finally feel like we’re in “harvest mode.” Our cotton is planted, wheat harvest has started, and we welcomed the newest member of our family. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="800"]Cheyenne, Oklahoma Dumping on the go in Cheyenne, Oklahoma.[/caption]
We welcomed our precious little girl, Ivy Jo, on May 24th. She has been an absolute blessing to all of us. Her big brother thinks she’s the cutest thing he’s ever seen, and he is sure to tell her that often. She has adjusted to camper life nicely and so far has been as easy-going as you could hope for an infant to be.

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.

Dodge City, Kansas - A little over a week ago, I received a Facebook message request. I hit "accept" to get a look at what this perfect stranger had to say. In the message, this gal explained to me that her and her husband both grew up on farms in Oklahoma, but they had made their home in the Philippines for thirty-five years now. She continued on to say her husband never missed a High Plains Journal issue and that he particularly loved the All Aboard Wheat Harvest program. How cool is it that? This program is so widely renowned.

We chitchatted about how harvest was going, and she then mentioned to me that there was one particular photo that her husband loved. The only thing was this; he had only seen it in black and white, and he had always wanted to see it in color. I asked her to send me a "photo of the photo," and I would see what I could do in terms of hunting it down in my picture archives.

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."