01 Jul Texas in Review
Western Kansas: The crew is ALL in Kansas. Did you think this day would ever come? How long does it take to establish residency in Texas because it feels like we were well on our path to qualifying?!?!?! Ha! I’m done making statements like, “We are normally at (insert location) around (insert date).” Yes, I’m done. After the last two years, I’m not sure what normal is anymore! The crew started trickling into Texas around May 21, started cutting on May 28, and ended late in the evening on June 23!!!
With all the craziness and longevity that was Texas, it seems appropriate to have some sort of debriefing post before moving on. It was the second season of “The Year of the Mud and Rain,” and our farmers really wanted us to use tracks this year if the conditions were wet. Ryan started researching the option some time ago and it looked like the weather was going to hold and tracks wouldn’t be needed. But when the rains picked up around harvest time, something was going to have to happen. Adding specialty equipment to the lineup in season, such as tracks, on a limited situation basis, is a tricky thing. Our pricing reflects our current set of equipment costs, labor costs, insurances, fuel, etc. When additional equipment is requested, the situation can be interesting to navigate with the growers who are making the request.
At first the tracks were somewhat helpful as they allowed us to go in places that we normally would have had to wait a few days to attempt with wheels. One day, when watching the machines run, I nearly had a heart attack the first time I watched a machine go into an area that normally should have been off limits. It handled the spot with ease which added to efficiency, especially when big moves had to be taken into account since we didn’t have to come back and clean up the field. The tracks really shined after all the continued rainstorms . One Thursday, after the latest round of showers, we had some of the few trucks hauling into the elevators. That statement is not meant to seem boastful, as we know full well we could have been and have been on the other end of that equation, it is just meant illustrate the difference the equipment made for us in those conditions.
No till farmers don’t appreciate a rutted field, nor do tillage farmers for that matter. Another benefit of the tracks is that they were more gentle on the ground than standard tires, and did not leave a trail in the field. This was not the case with the tractor and grain cart since they are not on tracks. A grain cart and tractor are one of the worst things to get stuck in the field since they can cause a lot of damage to the ground. We had to be very creative on how they were used. The crew tried to be diligent on where the tractor ran and the crew could only partially fill the cart with grain. There were times they had to dump over the fence. Even in the continued wet conditions, with time of the essence, the crew still wanted to do the best job we can and try to minimize damage to the fields. It wasn’t ideal to run in such conditions, but the crop needed to come out. If more than 15% sprout was present, the truck load would have been rejected by the elevator.
It seems we cut wheat in about every possible condition: standing, laying down, muddy, dry, hailed, drowned, dryland, and irrigated. We just missed snow, thank goodness there was no snow! Our equipment drivers should be well trained after their time down south! As you would expect in such diverse conditions, yields varied widely, and in general, the wheat averaged anywhere from 30-60 bushels per acre with test weights in the 55-60 pound range.
It took perseverance, but the crop came out. Yes, this area of Texas has had more than their fair share of adverse conditions the last few years. When you remember they were very close to being out of water just two years ago, it does put things into perspective a little more. Hopefully all this rain will benefit those with crops to be harvested later this summer and fall!
Below are a few last photos of the Texas adventure!
All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. You can contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.