Megan: Roland Harvesting On The Road Again

That time of year is among us once again. It is evident the earth is awakening from a long cold winter in preparation for another summer. With the first signs of spring come the feelings of anticipation as harvest is just around the corner.

For many custom harvesting crews the beautiful aspects of spring are sometimes overlooked by the hustle and bustle of harvest preparation. For Roland Harvesting, our springs are always beyond chaotic. After much of the equipment has been sitting and unused for many months, it is important we take the time to thoroughly check everything out. We always ensure the combines and trucks are set up and ready roll. For each piece of machinery that typically consists of cleaning, checking safety measures, greasing, and repairing or replacing anything necessary. Along with harvest preparations my family also keeps busy planting crops, spraying, fertilizing, tilling fields and keeping up on all the farm work.

Due to the early ripening of the wheat this year Roland Harvesting had a bit of a challenge trying to make the big move south. Typically we try to head down together as a whole crew and make the move as a convoy. However, this year our journey turned into an interesting one. The first complication we ran across was the endless list of farming duties that needed to be completed at home. After much discussion between our crew, Dad made the executive decision that he would stay at home to help Mom finish up all the planting, spraying, and other necessary farm work. Once things are caught up at home Dad will meet up with us on the road to continue the rest of the harvest run. In 34 years of harvest, Dad recalls only staying behind one other time – and that was for the birth of my brother, Brandon, on June 2, 1992.

Since the Altus, Oklahoma area has been cutting since May 5th we made a realistic plan to try and leave all together as a group on Tuesday, May 8th. Unfortunately our luck was against us that day and we ran across many unexpected problems from flat tires to electrical issues on the trailers. Brandon, James, and Danny were able to make it a few hours down the road to Imperial, Nebraska. Brandon hauled a combine followed by a header while James hauled the other combine and a grain trailer. Danny took up the rear with the service truck and other grain trailer. The next morning, Greg and I were able to leave home and catch up with the rest of the crew. Greg hauled the tractor and grain cart while I pulled the other header with the pickup. On Wednesday we were able to cover numerous miles and cross a 4 state span (Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.) With minimal problems throughout the day our convoy pulled into Perryton, Texas right before sunset.

Thursday morning we were up before the sun, checking tires, engine oils, chains, and ensuring all the equipment was traveling well. I made sure to enjoy the sunrise as well! We had an early start to the day and hit the road just as the sun came up. We finally finished our journey and arrived at our destination of Gould, Oklahoma around 10 am. After traveling over 700 miles in the last few days we were ready to finally cut some wheat! We unloaded the machines, hooked up the grain trailers, attached the headers and were cutting wheat by 11:30 am. Brandon and James operated our two New Holland CR 9070 combines while I ran grain cart and Greg and Danny kept busy trucking for us. It was a nice surprise for us as we pulled the first truckload of wheat off the field in less than an hour. Last year, due to the severe drought, the averages in the area were around 5 – 15 bushels per acre, meaning we were lucky to pull off 4 truckloads the entire day. However, with much more moisture this year it looks like many of these fields will average between 30 – 40 bushels per acre.

Knowing what a devastating year our farmers had last year we were determined to get out their crop as quickly and efficiently as possible. As the sky filled up with unfriendly clouds in the afternoon and the weather forecast scanned across the radio calling for rain that night we continued to work our little hearts out. The elevator in a nearby town, Eldorado, closed down at 11 that evening but we were determined to cut out as much wheat as possible. Even after the elevator closed down we were in hopes of filling both of our grain trailers and the grain cart before the rain set in. Luckily, we were able to almost fill two of the trucks before the rain got the best of us as it set in around midnight. Unfortunately, we were shy of about 40 acres from finishing that field as heavy rains pounded the area. Overall, it was a successful first day of harvest!

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Not only is this time of year about equipment preparation but there is also the paperwork aspect of harvest that cannot be forgotten. This year we had to put new license plates on all the trucks and trailers. Along with that we also had to ensure there was the proper registration and insurance in all the vehicles. Above: Mom sorts through all of the registration paperwork at home before we leave.

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Sweet summer serenity is in the air. This is a view off our back porch the last evening we were home. We grilled out and had a final “family dinner” with the crew before we headed south the following morning.

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One of the CR’s all loaded up on the combine trailer and ready to hit the road!

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Chains are an obvious necessity when it comes to moving our harvest machinery. Their importance is a huge aspect of highway safety during these moves.

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A close up of part of the crew before we get ready to head out. Left to right: Danny, James, Dad, Brandon and me.

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Part of the convoy leaving our driveway and ready to head south!

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May 9th – A glimpse of the wheat around the Ogallala, Nebraska area. During the move down south we were able to see the progression of wheat as it changed from jointed, to boot stage, to partially headed, and finally to fully headed. We were also able to see the wheat ripen from green in Nebraska to gold in our final stop in Gould, Oklahoma.

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Brandon checks a chain binder during one of our stops. Truck drivers always double check to make sure the load is securely fastened before getting on the road.

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Here is part of our convoy parked near Perryton, Texas. The crew was up bright and early on Thursday morning so we could finally reach our destination and start cutting wheat. Although this picture does not give it any justice, we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise as we continued our journey south.

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James and Danny watch Brandon maneuver his header over fence posts while he pulls into the first field.

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Ah, finally cutting wheat!

All Aboard Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and Syngenta. Megan can be reached at

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