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Brian: North Dakota – Harvesting Like Our Hair’s On Fire

Wow, what a difference a few days can make.  You’ll recall the slow progress we had been making in South Dakota because of the green spring wheat ripening so slowly with cooler temperatures.  Well, the weather finally cooperated, the wheat dried down, and South Dakota ended in a flurry of activity. Click to watch the video below for an update live from our final South Dakota field. Then continue reading about the first few busy days of North Dakota harvest.

Finishing South Dakota always feels like such an accomplishment, because we spend so much time here covering so many acres  (our largest stop of the summer, this year taking 33 days to complete.)  We wrapped up our last field in the middle of the day, so we started to clean off the machines. It was miserable! There was no breeze, and the heat seemed unbearable for some reason. In fact, I had to sit down for a while, for fear I was starting to suffer from heat exhaustion. Change of plans: We stopped cleaning, moved equipment back to the combine trailers and then drove back to town to eat dinner in the air conditioning of the trailer houses. After a little recuperation we went back out to the machines and finished cleanup until sunset when the temperatures were much cooler.



In the morning we loaded up equipment before the heat of the day, finished paying our bills around town and then celebrated another successful South Dakota harvest completed by attending the county fair’s rodeo. It was an enjoyable change of pace, and the young boys really enjoyed the cowboys and the bull riding. Little did we know this would be our last time off for a while…

We hit the road early in the morning, headed North to Strasburg, North Dakota. Strasburg is a small town just 15 miles over the border and only 100 miles away from Onida, SD.  We always enjoy this short move up the road. We arrived in time to set up house trailers and eat lunch quickly in the air conditioning. Then we rushed out to unload equipment, as our farmer was certain our first field was ready to go. We moved equipment out to the field and sure enough, it was just dry enough to harvest.



This year we are doing something different in North Dakota, joining forces with the local farmer and working together.  Our two machines have joined the farmer’s two machines and another local farmer’s machine to turn loose five combines at once.  Paired with two large grain carts and some very large fields, we have been harvesting like our hair is on fire! The grain carts allow us to harvest mile-long rows and our efficiency has been through the roof. The wheat is yielding 45-55 bushels per acre, keeping the grain carts very busy and the truckers busier. For many larger harvesting crews this type of activity is every day, but for us it’s a big change of pace to work with so many other machines, carts and semis all together… it’s been really fun!



The weather has been amazingly cooperative, something that North Dakota is not always known for.  It’s been hot, dry and sunny every day.  We are capitalizing on this and running at a break-neck pace.  A 640-acre square mile field that seems enormous doesn’t even last a day, and we have been checking one field after another off the list at a record rate.  We are accustom to spending weeks in a cool, damp North Dakota, but at this rate, harvest could barely last one week!



Can we keep up this pace?  Will the weather really be this nice the entire time we are here?  Are we ready to finally actually put in some long, consecutive days of work?  We will know soon enough.  To be honest, we feel like THIS is finally the way harvest was meant to be this summer….harvesting like our hair is on fire!  Bring it on!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Brian can be reached at brian@allaboardharvest.com.

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