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Megan: Successful Move and Gettin’ In the Groove

Altus, Okla. – Since I was unable to help with the move down south I received play-by-play reports from the crew about their adventures on the road. The start of their move went smoothly until around Wauneta, Nebraska.  There, they were surprised to meet road construction, where work was being done on a bridge. When moving a harvest convoy the last thing you want to see ahead is orange cones, stopped traffic, and road construction equipment. Talk about a headache! This is simply because we have such long and oversize loads that it is often difficult to fit through many construction areas or to get our large rigs turned around if need be. With that being said, it was quickly determined that there was no way our oversize loads would be able to fit through the narrow one way bridge. Luckily, they were able to get the convoy turned around and rerouted themselves to a 58 mile detour to avoid the mile and a half of bridge construction. They safely made it Colby, Kansas that evening with no more problems.

The next morning, the crew encountered more unforeseeable delays in Colby and got a late start. The next stretch of the trip went fine until around the northern border of Texas, where one of the combine trailers blew a tire out. Fortunately, they were only a few miles from Perryton, Texas so they limped the trailer to town, where the tire could be repaired. When moving a convoy the pilot car is responsible for calling out any old tires on the sides of the road. (We call them “alligators” due to the look of the tire tread alongside the highway.) We do this so the rest of the crew isn’t wondering if that blown tire came from one of our rigs or if it was there previously. The person at the rear of the crew is then in charge of calling out any “alligators” that were not acknowledged by the pilot car, so we can get the caravan pulled over to investigate which tire was blown, how badly it is damaged, and what the best solution to the situation is. Often times it is difficult for the driver of an oversize load to know if he has blown a tire so it’s essential for the crew to follow this process.

Roland Harvesting stayed in Perryton that night and finished their journey the following day with no complications. The convoy pulled into their destination near Altus, Oklahoma around lunchtime and quickly unloaded the combines and hooked up the headers. As fate would have it, they were only able to get a truckload and a half of wheat harvested before it began to rain. The next day the crew sampled throughout the day in hopes of getting going again, but had no such luck. They also made minor adjustments to the combines and headers to finish polishing up the machines after a long winter of sitting. The next two days Roland Harvesting was finally able to get some long, successful days of combining in. Getting in the groove of harvest is always a great feeling! Last night, more rain showers came through the area, dumping over a half an inch of moisture on the fields. Sadly, with heavy rain like that, there will be no harvesting done today. (However, the rain is certainly welcomed by the locales, after they have experienced such extreme drought the last few years.)  The crew hopes to get started up again tomorrow and the weather seems to be in our favor. The 10 day forecast is calling for hot, sunny days with 100+ degree weather, which are ideal harvesting conditions for us!

Road construction for one lane bridge
A view from Kasey’s pickup as he pulled up to the beginning of the road construction. This is rarely a friendly sight for harvest crews on the move! (Photo by Kasey)

Convoy early in the morning
The entire crew all lined up bright and early as they continued their journey south. (Photo by Kasey)

Eric checking the air hose
Eric checks the connection of an air hose on one of their breaks.

View from inside the truck
Imagine yourself sitting in the driver’s seat of a semi…this is what you would see when you check your side mirror during a move. Due to the large size of the combine it is near impossible to visualize the grain trailer hooked up behind the combine trailer. To avoid accidents and to keep the move as safe as possible, it is important the crew communicates using the CB radios to call out passing traffic.

Jose driving truck
This was one of Jose’s first times hauling a loaded combine for a long distance.  According to boss Brandon and the rest of the crew, he did an excellent job!

Piece of steel found in tire
This piece of steel was found in the sidewall of the tire that went flat. (Photo by Brandon)

Finally cutting
Finally in the field and cutting wheat!! After months of waiting, this is a pretty special feeling. (Photo by Kasey)

Waiting for wheat to dry out
The CR parked as a sample of wheat is ran into to town to check the moisture. As many other correspondents have reported, the wheat in southern Oklahoma was exposed to numerous late freezes and drought. Due to these conditions, most fields are making between 5 to 25 bushels per acre. In fact, many farmers turned to alternatives to harvesting their wheat and had it baled, grazed off by cattle or sprayed.  Because of this, there are fewer harvesting crews in the area.  (Photo by Kasey)

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


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