24 Jul 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.