High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest


Janel Schemper















Janel Schemper joined All Aboard Wheat Harvest this year and will be a full-time correspondent. Schemper Harvesting has been family owned and operated for the past 50 years.

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

6 Responses to Janel: Drying days wanted
Janel Schemper

  1. Hi janel. How many acres will each coming harvest each season? How do you get paid? By the acre? If I had 1000 acres for you to harvest roughy what does that cost a farmer? Do you buy or lead. We equipment each year? I am always curious about farming economics. It has been fun to learn about your adventures

  2. Your picture with the loaded cart, Pete in the middle, and combine on the left could be the background photo for a kids new farm toy on the box.

  3. Will Schempers be harvesting any Sunflowers this year in South Dakota, or other areas?
    How’s that Sunflower crop looking around there?

    Alan

    • The sunflowers will probably do alright. I have never harvested sunflowers. I do harvest corn and soybeans during the fall months each year. Thanks for your message Alan VanHahmen!
      -janel

  4. If Moo decides she needs two weeks at summer camp in the Black Hills — Will her job be open to an “Old Dawg?”
    Only problem, during June and July, 2015 — with that continual rain in Nawth Dakota, this Old Dawg was so sick with pollen allergies, even riding shotgun with a real modern combine operator would have been impossible.
    Sincerely hope you get some clear skies and drying temps.

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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

4 Responses to Janel: Montana aka Big Sky Country
Janel Schemper

  1. Hi Janel, Great photos ! I’ve been on line off and on checking wheat harvest progress, looks to be going well .i grew up on a grain and livestock farm. I live very close to Champaign IL.i greatly enjoyed reading your posting. Best wishes David….

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Janel: Family of harvesters
Janel: Family of harvesters avatar

Schemper 2017 - Kansas Wheat Harvest
Photo by Janel Schemper
Janel Schemper is on the line with AAWH’s Sarah Moyer to chat about Schemper Harvesting and the family involved with their operation. She also discusses her love of small town businesses, which line the harvest trail. Tune in to step into the field with Janel.

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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

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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

2 Responses to Janel: It was fun while it lasted
Janel Schemper

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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

6 Responses to Janel: Harvest ups and downs
Janel Schemper

  1. Very interesting update. I can’t believe how distinct the old sod house slabs of old praire grass still show after so many years.

  2. I enjoy your stories and pictures, what a wonderful shot of the sod house with the sun. You and Sage have the same smile.

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Janel: Belonging in a wheat field
Janel: Belonging in a wheat field avatar

Photo by Janel Schemper


Janel Schemper joins AAWH’s Sarah Moyer to discuss growing-up, knowing she would one day be a custom harvester. They also add in a story about Miss Moo’s start on the harvest trail and discuss Janel’s favorite harvest foods. Tune in to step into the field with Janel.

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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

2 Responses to Janel: Drought report ahead
Janel Schemper

  1. Just head to the Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota. Farmers there are looking at record breaking yields of spring wheat. And with the price of spring wheat near $8 per bushel they may be interested in hiring some combines to assist their own.

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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

2 Responses to Janel: Early mornings and late nights
Janel Schemper

  1. Moo may be slightly territorial and seriously spoiled. Any dog in the best chair with forelegs wrapped around the arm to hang on to the chair qualifies as territorial.
    On the other hand, being well enough behaved to lie quietly in the floorboard, while a cheeseberger is just overhead in an open box.
    That’s a lady!!

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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.

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6 Responses to Janel: Blue header time – yea!
Janel Schemper

  1. Janel, I am Sharon Drake, from Winfield, Ks. 5 miles north of the Oklahoma border. I think harvest is over or almost. Not sure numbers,but from what we hear was a good crop.
    In my family when I was growing up, June was not only wheat, but hay of Alfalfa, wheat straw bales and oat bales. My parents anniversary, Dad’s birthday was always celebrated in the field. Loved that time of summer.
    Thank you for sharing your family and work along the way. You are very good at poetry. I hope you have that poem saved for future generations. Be careful. Sharon Drake

  2. wow beautiful poem!looking forward on the article on the stripper header when your up to it. please & thanks

  3. Thanks so much to take time to post those great pics , good here the headers are in some high yielding/good bushel weight wheat.Love the pic of Miss Moo & your boots !!

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