All Aboard Harvest | Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting
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Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting

Laura Haffner – High Plains Harvesting

For Laura Haffner, there is not a better way to see the Great Plains.She and her husband, Ryan, have High Plains Harvesting based in Park, Kansas. The couple, along with their two young children and a crew of about a dozen, travel from Texas to the Canadian border to harvest wheat, canola and peas.

They return to Kansas at the end of summer to harvest corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. They family runs five late John Deere-model combines, along with their other supporting equipment.

Ryan’s harvesting experience started as a young child with his family. He was hooked and continued harvesting summers throughout his teens and early twenties with a local crew. He later took over that business, which has become High Plains Harvesting. This season will mark their seventh as owners.

This is Laura’s fourth year writing for All Aboard Wheat Harvest.
“I enjoy seeing new places and meeting new people,” Laura said. “I like to see harvest through my children’s eyes. They think it is a grand vacation because we make it that way for them.” Whether it is trips to the field or finding the interesting things that make a harvest stop unique, there is no shortage of things to do.

“As a result of our opportunity to extensively travel the Great Plains, I can tell the children are already expanding their worldview, love for travel, learning and adventure.”

Park, Kansas - The crew has made it back to our headquarters in northwest Kansas. It was a nearly immediate change over, service, and now they are in the field picking high moisture corn and soybeans. Its crazy how quickly things move and that it is already time to start the next season of crops. The weather has been favorable regarding moisture in many parts of western and northwest Kansas this summer, so we are expecting strong yields in many areas. Most acres we harvest in the fall consist of grain sorghum, corn, and soybeans, but we are open to

Northern Montana - We currently have crews in three areas including southern Montana, northern Montana, and North Dakota. Mark and the crew have a diverse menu of crops to harvest up north. Green peas, winter wheat, spring wheat, chick peas, and mustard rounds out the list. Yields have been strong so far. Green peas have ranged anywhere from 30–100 bushels per acre with averages around 50. Winter wheat has been in the mid 60's. Spring wheat is coming in at the 50-60 bushel per acre range. Chick peas and mustard harvest haven't been harvested yet so I have no yield

Minot, North Dakota: The crew recently finished harvesting durum wheat in the Minot area. It is amazing how crops can change from one year to the next. This year, yields are very strong. The crew has seen them range from the mid 50’s all the way the 80 bushel per acre range. People have noted that the quality of the durum is also very good with this crop. Trucks are rolling into on farm storage here as well, so additional stats are unavailable.

Ryan reports the weather has had an almost winter feel since it has been cloudy, foggy or smoky,

Kansas, Montana, North Dakota: The littles and I recently traveled home from the harvest trail. With a day and a half shy of being away for four weeks, a pile of office work would surely be waiting, and routines needed to be implemented prior to school starting. It takes a little bit to transfer from harvest time to home time! The worlds are completely different.

As you would expect by now, I had to take advantage of our location and decided to bypass the quicker interstate route for a slightly longer one through the Black Hills and surrounding areas. Some highlights

South Central Montana - It is not often that our crew is all together cutting in the same field. When I’m on the road, I’m usually with half of the crew. Depending on the day and equipment line-up, that could be 4-7 extra mouths to feed in addition to my family. In Montana, we were all together, so I was feeding 13 adults and two kids when we were in the field. Some crews are larger, some are smaller, but no matter whether you are cooking for 1 or 30+, it’s a job! I’m not always on the road, but

South Central Montana - Combines have continued to roll in the same area so there’s not that much new to report regarding the crew. I thought I would make a simple post highlighting the beauty of the area using pictures.

Speaking of pictures, my phone, while getting older but seemed to be in mint condition, quit without warning just prior to the weekend. I had intended to use some nice panoramas for this post. I had recently backed up and pulled pictures off my phone but hadn’t done it for the last couple weeks yet. It remains to be seen if

South Central Montana: Harvest continues out here in south central Montana. As mentioned in a previous post, we are hauling into onsite bins. Therefore, protein and test weights aren’t available. Yield ranges have been in the 70s. These are dryland acres.

I thought it was time the truckers got a little post. Usually the combines, tractors and grain carts get a lot of attention, because they’re physically harvesting the wheat. Trucks have the a very important role, too, of transporting the grain to a storage facility. For those readers not as familiar with the process, our drivers need a CDL (commercial

South Central Montana: The decision was finally made to wave the white flag and retreat from the field. It was just too green and nothing was going to go. The decision was made to try again Monday, so that gave the crew a short break. After Ryan caught up on paperwork and I on All Aboard posts, we needed to get parts at the John Deere dealership in Billings. We used it as an excuse for family time, went to lunch and followed that up with a trip to Pictograph Caves and Pompey’s Pillar. The day before I took the

Southern Montana - The crew has been reunited in Montana. We were very fortunate because the first load went up without a hitch. The second round had only one blown out tire and it was fixed quickly. One blown tire out of 164 tires on the second trip, yes, we’ll count that as success. With that many people on the road, heavy equipment, ports and permits, you can imagine moving is a stressful time. We want everyone, our crew and those around us, to remain safe.

I know there is a lot going on during moving days, so I proposed that

Northeast Colorado - This stop is normally one of my favorite places to photograph the crew. It’s deep blue skies, wide open spaces, and gorgeous sunsets does not disappoint. However, this year, when we finally made it back into the field, the air hung heavy. There was very little breeze, which caused the dust to linger making it difficult to see the action properly. This does not make for very photogenic harvest pictures and why I’m lacking them! The wildlife was willing to pose though!

Yields were all over the place. We had anything from 30 to over 50 bushels per