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Megan: Peas in a Pod

Imperial, Neb. – Rewind to last week at this time. Roland Harvesting was just finishing up our last few fields in Imperial, Neb.  This year, this stop was a bit different than usual for us. Our acres were slightly down due to drought, winterkill, and more corn being planted in the area. My parents recall that over 30 years ago when they first started following the harvest run, this area used to be filled with acres and acres of wheat. However, in recent years, farmers have begun to rotate their crops more and alternate with corn and other cover crops.  It is safe to say that the building of more ethanol plants in the area has greatly influenced this change in crop planting.

American flag and CR
Brandon snapped this patriotic photo after unloading the combines at Elmer Cemetery, north of Wauneta, Neb. There used to be a church at this location years ago, but it is no longer standing. We used the vacant lot near this area as our “home base” to unload our equipment and park our trailers until we were ready to move up the road.

Cutting away
The wheat in Imperial ranged between 30 – 50 bushels per acre, with test weights of about 60 pounds. The protein stuck right around 13.5 – 14%.

Fun fact: When wheat gets stressed, due to factors such as drought, the protein content drastically increases. High protein wheat is blended with ordinary wheat to make the desired flour for the baking process. For every half point of protein, there is an increase in price. Bottom line: Even though the drought has drastically reduced the yields of wheat, it has boosted the protein, helping farmers get a few extra pennies per bushel when they go to sell their wheat.

Kasey unloading the graincart
Kasey concentrates as he unloads the grain cart onto the truck. Since the auger on the grain cart is so short, you have to get very close to the truck to unload. The tractor also sits lower than the combines so it is more difficult to see the wheat piling up on the grain trailer.

CR by clouds
Another Nebraska wheat field has been cut and conquered by the Roland Harvesting crew.

Eric putting oil in the semi
After checking the oil in the truck and seeing that it was low, Eric adds some oil.  This is a part of our everyday maintenance, which helps ensure our equipment continues to run in “top-notch” condition.

Wheat bobbing in the wind
More wheat heads bobbing in the wind, waiting to get harvested.

Dad cutting away
Dad cuts away in the field with his CR.

View from the road of the CR 9060 and stripper header
A view from the road as the CR 9060 and stripper header keep busy. We used the stripper header on a couple fields of wheat near Imperial.

More storm clouds moving in
Some dark storm clouds loom in the distance and eventually make it our way.

During our time in Imperial we ran into a couple of rain showers but luckily things dried down pretty quick so we could get back into the field. We only had one day where we couldn’t cut at all and we spent that time giving our trucks some much needed TLC.

After the first rain storm hit Brandon hopped out of his combine, saying “What is this?!”

View from the camper
We had this lakeside view to wake up to every morning during our time here. We were lucky enough to park our camper at Enders Reservoir and get a little fix of “camping” after our long workdays. Eric and Jose would do a little fishing, while the rest of us enjoyed a campfire and s’mores before turning in to get some shut-eye.

We encountered another first here and had the unique opportunity to cut more than just wheat. We actually harvested peas at this stop! We used the draper header to cut them and we were able to knock them out in no time. Since the local elevators do not accept peas, we trucked them to the grain elevator in Amherst, Colorado, about 60 miles away. It was certainly a fun experience to harvest peas and since we planted some at home this year we will get to do it all over again soon enough.

Jose and Eric prepare the CR for peas
Jose and Eric had to switch out our wheat concaves with corn concaves in the CR 9070 before we could start harvesting peas. We also had to adjust certain settings on the machine.

Peas in the field
A field of peas all dried down and ready to be harvested. For peas, the moisture needs to be under 11%. This field made an average of almost 20 bushels per acre and had a test weight of 60 pounds, both of which is right at average.

Harvesting peas
We used our draper header to combine the peas. Since we only had a few fields of peas to do, we just switched the CR 9060 over. The other two combines continued to cut wheat in fields nearby.

Peas in the grain tank
The peas looked a little different coming into the grain bin than wheat does.

Peas upclose
Here’s a closeup view of the peas. These pictured yellow peas can be used for edible purposes. However, these particular ones are being used in the production of canine food.

Last Wednesday we loaded up our equipment and on Thursday we headed to northwestern Nebraska.  We were finally able to move in one huge, long convoy and man-oh-man, did that feel great! Brandon and his crew pulled into Chadron, Neb. while Mom, Dad, and I started in at home, near Hemingford. Usually Chadron ripens a solid week before home does but this year everything seems to be ready at the same time so we were forced to split up the crew and combines until the Chadron stop is completed.

Looking in the USCHI membership book
Brandon and Dad reference the U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. (USCHI) Membership Book to double check legal lengths of loads as we try to figure out how to move everything north in one big trip.

Roland Harvesting has been a USCHI member for over 30 years and many benefits come from being involved. USCHI provides state-by-state Department of Transportation information, in addition to offering safety videos, and continually updating crews on political agricultural issues and laws.

All the equipment loaded up
The entire convoy stopped in Ogallala, Neb. to check our loads and grab lunch before continuing our trip up north.

Jose, Kasey, and Brandon walk to their trucks
Part of the crew walks back towards their rigs so we can hit the road again. This is the first time all summer long that we have been able to move ALL of our equipment together. 

Megan hauling the tractor and graincart
Check out the load I got to move this time. I had the chance to haul the tractor and grain cart from Imperial all the way home! I felt like quite the trucker rolling with the convoy but anytime we had to pull in somewhere I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics, “Give me forty acres and I’ll turn this rig round.”

The convoy moving through the sandhills
Then, once we starting chugging down the highway Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” managed to sneak into my head. Above: The three loaded combines make their way through the Nebraska Sandhills as the last of the caravan follows.

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


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