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Waiting for the Magic Number

Claude, TX – Moisture…it’s a very important factor in this game of chasing the ripening wheat. Most elevators really like that magic number to be 13%. The elevator in Claude says they’ll accept it at 14%. That’s being very lenient!

Why is moisture content so important? 
1. Wheat stored at a higher moisture level is susceptible to mold, bacteria and insects which causes deterioration of the grain. Wheat stored at a lower moisture level is by far more suitable for long-term storage.  
2. Moisture content of wheat also affects milling; which, ultimately, affects the quality of the bread you eat.

It’s such a fine line we harvesters and farmers play with moisture, weather and all that it takes to provide quality grain necessary to produce the end result – food for the consumer.

Therefore, we sit. A little while longer hoping tomorrow will be the day we can get to that magic number and start the job we left home over a week ago to start. It plays on the nerves and the patience of those wanting to be out there working like so many others are doing. It’s all a part of the game. Once that time comes, when we can start cutting, we’ll hope we can keep rolling. But, that’s where the weather comes into play, once
again…ALWAYS holding that trump card!

There's movement AND dust!

This was taken yesterday afternoon – when we THOUGHT we were going to get to keep cutting. We cut one truckload and took it to town. It tested 14.3%. Jim and the manager of the elevator both agreed to wait a couple more hours and bring in another load.

And yet ANOTHER moisture test.

The probe grabbing a sample to test for that all important moisture level.

Sitting on the scales.

The end of a frustrating day!

So, we waited a couple of hours and cut another load, anticipating the best. Unfortunately, the moisture went up instead of down. The second truckload was 15.2%. So, we headed back to the field and prepared the Beast for the night. This entails blowing off the dirt and chaff and cleaning windows with the California Duster (a harvester’s secret). I did give them a little more care than usual. I actually washed them so now we can see through them when we CAN cut.

Z Crew


Z Crew


On June 11, Jim and the farmer met and decided they’d try another sample about mid-afternoon. And then this blew up. It was much more angry looking than it really was. There was quite a lot of wind but no rain. If you look really, really hard, you can see the Beast sitting there way off on the horizon waiting to get this party started. Jim made a trip out to the field to take a sample late afternoon. I opted to stay at the trailer house. I’m sort of feeling like I don’t want to get my hopes up only to be disappointed-again. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when Jim came back and told me the moisture was still at 15.3%.
An added piece of the puzzle.


An added piece of the puzzle.


All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. The Z Crew can be reached at zcrew@allaboardharvest.com.


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