Jada: Harvest crew in 3 places at once

Rear view

Looking for the graincart while waiting with a very full hopper to be dumped.

Due to the rain in Limon, Colo., Hoffman Harvesting is now split three ways. On Sunday, Charles and Henrry and a combine moved to Gettysburg, S.D. Then on Monday, my parents, Roly and Josh moved to our home in Bowdle, S.D., with a combine to harvest in Hoven. Leon, Carin, Euan, Robert, Mark, and I stayed in Limon to finish up what is left of the crop we have to harvest here. We are left with a day’s work, but the weather isn’t cooperating. Forecasts of rain for a week are making our prospect of finishing up grim. And to top it all off, we are all rained out—not just the Limon group! Today is my birthday so I guess there is one bonus to being completely rained out today. We will get to do something fun for my birthday.

Waiting to dump
Is this fall harvest!? A rare experience during the summer harvest—parked and ready to dump when the grain cart gets here.

On another good note, the wheat north of Limon, Colo., is really good. It averaged around 50 bushels to the acre with test weights in the 60s. The wonderful wheat and long waits at the elevator had us thinking it was fall harvest one day last week. The trucks were barely keeping up with us. We all agreed that was the busiest day of the year. Rains north of us threatened to rain on our parade, but they stuck to the north and we got a lot of work done and all that showed up in our field was a rainbow as our harvest scenery for the day.

Approaching storm?
Can you see the rainbow?! It was too far away for a photo, but in the field the storm was too close for comfort.


The 9770 STS- Not your grandfather’s, father’s or even the combine I grew up with

For 37 years, my father has been in business and he has ran green from the get go. In the beginning, he had two 6600 John Deere combines. Not only are the machines a lot larger today—I heard of a long-time harvesters saying that his back tire on his combine today is bigger than his front tire when he started, but they are also more technologically advanced.

We used to have rigid headers which were equipped a metal auger. You didn’t want to get mud in your header as it wasn’t as easy to clean out as the draper headers we use today. The draper header has belts. This system makes for a smoother feeding process. The reel used to be flat (reel bates) but now it has fingers which make feeding the wheat into the header a more fluid process- the draper header doesn’t beat wheat in, it is now fed in. The draper header also allows us to pick up wheat that is flattened to the ground.

Header tilt
Three useful monitors in our combines. The top is the header tilt, the second screen helps us make sure we aren’t throwing wheat over or plugging our tailings and the bottom shows us how full we are how fast we are going and more. In the background you can see the reel of the header and its teeth.

Another feature that I didn’t have growing up is the header tilt. Since I am not used to it, I barely use it unless I have to. However, it comes in really handy when you are in a pinch. For instance, if we are moving down the road and there is a mailbox or post right next to the road instead of walking the combine around the obstacle, you can simply push a button to tilt your header to miss hitting it. We also use this feature for getting into small gates.

Command center
The command center helps inform the machine’s operator of practically anything you want to know on the machine—moisture, yields, and even how full your combine is.

The inner workings of the combine are even different than when I first ran combine. We used to run walker machines (equipped with a cylinder in the front that separated the wheat horizontally), now there are only STS (Single Twine Separator combines which separate wheat vertically) combines available.

The joystick allows us to work the header and dump with little effort- just a press of the button. You can tell you have been operating a combine for a while when you get combiners elbow- a dryed out elbow from resting it on the arm rest.

The cab of the combine has changed a lot too. There is now a joystick you hold onto and can completely operate the header and dump without moving your hand from the joystick. A Command Center, located by the joystick, tells you pretty much everything you need to know while operating the combine- how much the moisture is, what the field is busheling, and when you will run out of fuel.A hopper with extensions holds 300 bushels. When asked how full you were in my day, you just had to guess. Today you can even tell exactly how full your combine is. To top it all off, two of our combines have auto steer and all of our combines are equipped with the new 635 D header which works like a flex header- the header adjusts the height on its own. Yes, technology has made things different. And if you can remember far enough back, combines didn’t always have a buddy seat!

Perry in his mobile office.

Another way technology has helped us in the advancements of our profession is keeping in touch. Pictured is my dad in his mobile office—cell phone in one hand and radio in another …. the radio doesn’t reach as far as the cell phone but both come in handy. Cell phones have definitely made keeping in touch a lot easier. We used to have to wait to get to a landline to get in touch with farmers, now we can call from wherever we are.

Jada Bulgin can be reached at jada@allaboardharvest.com. All Aboard 2009 Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.


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