The answers to your wheat harvest questions …

The 2009 wheat harvest season is half over, and Jada and Jenna have received many questions and comments along their harvest journeys. The All Aboard 2009 Wheat Harvest crew would like to take this opportunity and answer a few harvest questions that have developed from this summer.

What type of food is served to families and crews during harvest?
Each harvest crew has a different way to work out their meals. Most crews have family members who cook for the entire crew each day. Most often, crews will serve two meals a day, but have breakfast foods on hand for those who wish to grab something quick before heading to the field. Cooks will often uses dishes they can prepare in crock-pots. Casseroles are also very popular. Each crew tries to offer well-balanced meals to their hired help, while keeping offerings a variety of good eats.

Break Time
Most crews eat many meals in the field during harvest season.

How long are custom harvesting crews on the road for wheat harvest?
Most crews will start their harvest route during May in Texas. Depending on weather and crop conditions, crews will wrap up the fall harvest run during late November in North Dakota and Montana. Once crews finish wheat harvest, they will head south again to harvest corn, milo, sunflowers, millet and barley during the fall months.

What is the average price for custom harvesting?

Every custom harvesting crew prices their services a little different. Most members of U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. use the formula of three magic numbers to set their price. Crews will set a price per acre, price per load, and a price for wheat that yields higher than average. Many times prices are determined by region, crop condition and grain quality.

Why do elevators look for low moisture percentages and high protein content?
Elevators request low moisture contents because they may need to store the grain for long periods of time. Growers and harvesters should cut wheat consisting of 12 percent moisture content. If the grain consists of high moisture percentages the grower will get docked depending on how wet the grain is. This dockage will support the costs required to dry out the grain in order to keep it fresh before being milled into flour.
Flour milling companies need dry wheat with high protein percentages. The high protein allows for the production of high quality flour for consumers.
The higher the protein content and the lower the moisture percentage offers higher quality of grain.

What types of headers are used to harvest wheat?
Stripper and draper headers are the most commonly used headers by custom harvesting crews. Stripper headers minimize material other than grain entering the combine, thus increasing threshing speed and separating capacity. Draper headers allow harvesters to increase harvesting capacity while increasing forward speed.

Draper header
Pictured above is a new 600D draper platform header.

How many acres can one combine harvest in a day?
Newer models of combines can cover about 200 acres on a hot, dry day. However, a modern combine will average about 150 acres per day.

On a warm, dry day how many hours will the combines be running?
Depending on the morning and evening dews, harvesters may start as early at 7 a.m. Most days, crews will spend the mornings greasing and repairing equipment. While the crew maintains the equipment, the wheat will dry out enough to begin cutting. Many times, harvesters will be in the fields as long as they have hot, dry weather to continue cutting. This often requires early mornings and late nights.

What are some issues that farmers face throughout the growing season of wheat?
Weather plays a major part in the stress growers face throughout the growing season. Drought, hail, flooding and disease are just a few factors to mention that keep growers up at night.

If a grower loses all his crops and income, how can he pay for the crop inputs for the year?

Crop insurance is one risk management option. Yield based (Actual Production History) policies provide insurance to protect against yield losses due to drought, excessive precipitation, hail, wind, frost, insects and disease.
Others programs available, such as DuPont’s Crop Protection Plus program, will credit the grower for the cost of chemicals if the field was damaged significantly.
By utilizing the tools available, many farmers are able to minimize their risk.

How often are the combines maintained?

Each day, crews will begin their days by maintaining equipment. This is the ideal time for greasing, fueling up and minor repairs.

The Zeorian's

Jim and Tracy Zeorian utilizes a morning to make a minor repair on the combine.

For more information e-mail All Aboard 2009 Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.


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