High Plains Journal All Aboard Wheat Harvest

Tag Archives: Dakotas

Scott: Another harvest season has come and gone…
Scott: Another harvest season has come and gone… avatar

Scott Clark and American Quality have completed yet another wheat harvest run.  This summer’s harvest took them from central Oklahoma to the Canadian border but every beginning has an end. The crew will finish with wheat and begin harvesting fall crops next week.

As I mentioned in my last blog, we’ve been cutting both canola and wheat lately. The canola has been yielding from 1500 to 2600 pounds per acre. Due to the moisture, many producers in have experienced a lot of regrowth of the plants and some fields even have several yellow canola flowers blooming again. We’ve been trying to get over and harvest as many acres as we can at all of our stops in North Dakota, just as the grain is dry enough to store (around 10 percent) to help our farmers avoid having to spray the crop to kill it before harvesting.

The wheat we’ve been harvesting around Interstate 94 has been making from 13 to 35 bushels per acre. The average is 28 bushels per acre for the acres that we’ve harvested so far. The standing water last spring, the heat when the wheat head was filling, and the humidity have all contributed to the disease in the crop and poorer yields than normal. However, most of the tests weights have still been running between 59 to 61 pounds.

It’s hard to believe the summer has passed so quickly! It seems as though just last week we were waiting for our first stop in Oklahoma to ripen, and  now we’re preparing to move to Northgate—about as far North as you can get in North Dakota. It just doesn’t seem like wheat harvest should be in the bin yet, even with the shorter harvest this year due to the drought and poor wheat crop in Texas and southern Oklahoma.

One thing about it—everyone in this industry has had one subject on their mind this summer: the weather. Sure, it’s common for all farmers to talk about the weather frequently, but I’ve never experienced such a large area where everyone was concerned about what the weather was doing. Not only that, but as harvest advanced further north, we continued to hear about the flooding that has been persistent since early last spring. If the weather didn’t prevent the crop from being planted, it seemed to inhibit its growth or delay harvesting this year. I think most would agree it’s been a tough year for a lot of people in this industry.

Lucius Seneca, a Roman philosopher, once said “Even after a bad harvest, there must be sowing.” As tough as it may be, the world’s agriculturists have to persevere and sow the next season’s crop. It might mean we have to work a little harder, do more ourselves, or even make sacrifices but that’s how we get by in this business. The American farmers are the backbone of this country and we all depend on them to accept these challenges and risks in order to feed the world’s growing population. We should all thank a farmer or rancher for his or her hard work and commitment to help others.

I’d personally like to thank all of our followers who have joined All Aboard Wheat Harvest this year, as well as the ones that I have seen support us for the last three years. I participate in AAWH and write for High Plains Journal to tell our story, and the stories of all custom harvesters and producers out there laboring day in and day out. Agriculture is a tiring job that many people have no desire to attempt—and many days I understand why! However, I hope our efforts have helped you to remember how much work it takes to get food from the field to the table. I’d also like to thank DuPont Crop Protection for sponsoring our crews this year, and all the sponsors who make it possible to share our lives.

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend!

For more information contact crew@allaboardharvest.com. All Aboard 2011 is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.

Scott: Wheat harvest is winding down…one field at a time.
Scott: Wheat harvest is winding down…one field at a time. avatar

Scott Clark and American Quality have finished harvesting in South Dakota and await their final wheat harvesting job to ripen in North Dakota.

American Quality finished harvesting the last of our winter wheat in South Dakota early this past weekend. It was a great crop across the board with good test weight, protein, and yields in excess of 60 bushels per acre. The ground was wet when we began harvesting, but the hot, windy days soon dried it out and made the harvesting conditions much easier.

On a normal year, we’d be split up harvesting spring wheat all around South Dakota right now. Jada might have said it best: We’d be “here, there and everywhere”. This year, however, each of our clients elected to plant all the ground they could to fall crops due to the wet spring. Although we’re looking forward to a long, busy fall harvest; it’s left us with more time on our hands than we’re used to in August.

We’ll begin taking some grain trailers and equipment to North Dakota this week. We’ll leave some equipment behind in case we stumble onto some wheat that needs to be harvested in South Dakota while the rest of the crew will setup our next home site and touch base with our farmers in the area before returning to South Dakota. If we are unsuccessful at finding more work by the end of the week, we’ll take the last load of equipment up to North Dakota.

We’re expecting to be able to start harvesting some canola around the 15th and should be able to continue harvesting wheat after the canola harvest is wrapped up. Although it’s been a poor year for many harvesters, we’re on track to get 5,000 acres harvested per machine by the time we finish in North Dakota. This will leave us with a lot of work to do this fall to make up for the lack of wheat acres but we’re optimistic that the equipment will keep on running the weather will cooperate. You know you’re in a risky business when you’re dependent on good weather and equipment to run without breakdowns.

Although we’re just now moving to our last stop on the wheat run, we’ve been planning and thinking about fall harvest for some time already. Running a harvesting business is a year-round job as we always have something to prepare for. We’ll be going to pick up corn heads, changing the concave modules in the combines, and performing seasonal maintenance on the equipment before we know it.

Some of our followers have asked about harvesting in wet conditions, so I’ll take a minute to talk about the scenarios wet field conditions present. Wet, muddy fields cause many issues for harvesters to work around. One of the biggest is not being able to drive the trucks into the fields to be loaded. Finding a dry spot that is close to the field and easy to turn trucks around and maneuver a grain cart is probably one of the most difficult things to do. Another issue is harvesting the grain itself in the wet conditions. Although we run flotation duals and four wheel drive on our combines, most crews do not and they find it very difficult, or impossible to harvest in wet conditions.

Not only does it strain the equipment physically and take more horsepower, it also strains the operator to keep the machine under control and harvesting straight patterns through the field. Standing water also presents inexperienced operators with a test—keep the header low enough to get the grain but high enough to be out of the water. I’ve heard horror stories where operators have found that they’re putting water in the bin via the header. The ruts the combines leave also present a hazard for operators and you must plan accordingly in order to keep the cutter bar on the header free of mud.

The trucks took a deserved break over the weekend, but will soon be transporting combines to North Dakota in search of ripe wheat to harvest.

The ground was really wet the first several days of harvesting. As it began to dry up, the grain cart operator let his guard down and paid the price. Thankfully he didn’t try to get out, but rather left it sit where it fell in—making it much easier to pull out.

The grain cart follows a combine around the backside of the field to dump the combines opening up the field. The 60 bushel wheat made it hard to open up a field without getting full—a problem we’re happy to see!

A combine takes a rare rest while waiting for the grain cart to return from the truck.

A combine cuts around a draw and opens up the field.

For more information contact crew@allaboardharvest.com. All Aboard is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.