27 Jul Janel: Family of harvesters
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pratt, Kansas - I love the Kansas wheat harvest and for so many reasons! Wheat harvest in Kansas feels like sweet summertime to me. I have so many harvesting memories in the Wheat State. Kansas is one of my favorite places to be and to harvest wheat. Honestly, the White House should be in western Kansas. Everyone here just loves President Donald Trump, or at least that’s all I hear. It’s so peaceful and beautiful out here. All of the people I know from Kansas are just genuinely friendly and really good people, and some are my favorites in the world. Yes, western Kansas is the place to be especially at wheat harvest time. Everywhere you look, it’s all golden.
We’ve been harvesting full blast the past few days here in the Pratt, Kansas area, and it feels good. The wheat has been yielding well. The ground conditions have been dry and the humidity during the day has been under 50 percent, which means the wheat is drying and the cutting conditions are on point. We have been on the edge of a couple of storms lately, but we haven’t had much rain. So luckily, we just keep cutting wheat.
Pratt, Kansas - I just spent two days getting equipment moved from the Weatherford, Oklahoma area up to the Pratt, Kansas area; and on the way I saw combines cutting everywhere along the highways we traveled. Most were custom harvesters but some were farmers, and a few looked to be like farmers helping farmers. For the most part, the ground conditions looked dry, but on the Oklahoma/Kansas border I saw that there were a few fields that got tracked up really pretty badly. Wheat was left uncut in the fields, because the ground would not hold the combine up. Getting stuck is no fun, so they left it for another day when the ground will be drier. We did get caught back up to the harvest at Pratt, where the wheat is just borderline ready. The highway is full of combines too. The harvesters keep coming through Pratt loaded up and heading north. I’m sure wheat harvest here will be in full swing in just a day or two, depending on what the weather does.