17 Sep Brian – Looking back on Wheat Harvest 2018 one final time.
Can it really be over?!? Wheat harvest 2018 was as memorable as they come for Jones Harvesting, for all the right (and wrong) reasons. Watch the summary video below to relive the highs (and lows) of the summer, the most memorable photos, the best footage and catch one more glimpse of the sun setting on amber waves of grain. Then continue reading on as I share details of the final journey back home, readjusting to life on the farm, gearing up for fall harvest, and the preparations already being made for wheat harvest 2019.
It’s amazing how fast time goes by. It seems just a few weeks ago we were loading machines and headed to Kansas to begin our 36th wheat harvest. A look at the calendar tells a different story. It indicates we wrapped up North Dakota some time ago, and corn and soybean harvest are right around the corner. We never expected to finish North Dakota so quickly. Ideal weather, efficient harvesting with grain carts and long days paid off in the end. We were so glad to be done because the lighting on the horizon produced a notable rain that sidelined other harvesters for quite some time. Chalk up one more win against the race to finish harvesting before a storm!
Moving equipment home is a long pull for the Iowa group, requiring two days. The Minnesota-bound group can make it one day if you keep the wheels rolling non-stop. A flat pickup tire was the only unplanned delay, and we are thankful for a safe journey with wide loads back to our homes in Iowa and Minnesota. We arrived back one day before school started up for the four boys, a conundrum that we had been mulling over in North Dakota. Thankfully we did not need to send part of the crew home, early for school, a very big inconvenience that has happened numerous times over 36 years.
There was little downtime when we returned home, however. While we all wanted to settle back into our own homes and take afternoon naps, chopping corn silage for our winter cattle feed put most vacation plans on hold. The weather was cooperative, and our “antique” silage wagons gave us few(er) problems this year. With silage chopping completed, we turned our attention towards haymaking. We currently have only a few more acres left to cut, rake and bale and then the haymaking season will be wrapped up as well. Then…finally perhaps a little downtime for the crew. Oh wait…the soybean leaves seem to be changing quickly, and the green is fading fast from the corn leaves. Then there is the post-summer cleaning of equipment, concaves to switch over in the combine and a full top-to-bottom maintenance routine, and the grain cart needs to be pulled out of the shed. Maybe those vacation days will have to wait till after a few months of fall harvesting. Let’s just hope for some rainy days to work in those naps, Okay?
We were less enthusiastic to return home this year, because we knew our own crops had some extreme growing challenges. Southern Minnesota had way too much rain, and the waterlogged soil has substantially diminished the yield potential of both corn and soybeans. Southern Iowa had the opposite problem, with virtually no rain for 7 weeks. The corn yield has been dramatically reduced, but substantial rains came just in time to save the soybeans. Our wheat harvest revenue was notably reduced due to no income from Oklahoma or Nebraska this year, so it’s discouraging to have yield challenges with our own crops as well. It’s been a rough year for many farmers all over America it seems, but we try to endure with the hopes of next year’s crop being better.
And with that in mind, plans for 2019 wheat harvest are already being made. We currently are evaluating purchasing some updated equipment for next year and contemplating if 40 foot combine header productivity offers financial savings in the long run. Maintenance on the draper header, combine trailer and other summer-only use equipment is underway before being put into storage. We regularly call our farmers to check in on their operations, discussing potential wheat acreage changes for 2019. The seeding of winter wheat is almost ready to begin in some states, so we keep an eye on the weather, hoping substantial rains will replenish the soils in the drought-stricken midwestern states. The wheat harvest is over, but it’s always in the back of our minds and we think towards the future.
It’s been a pleasure to share with you my family’s harvesting adventures this summer. I was thrilled to be asked by High Plains Journal to document our journey with you, but the experience has surpassed my highest expectations! I hope you found our story entertaining, educational, enlightening, and enjoyable. Let’s all personally thank the sponsors that make All Aboard Wheat Harvest possible: John Deere, Oklahoma Baptist Home for Children, AgriPro, Unverferth, and High Plains Journal staff. Their collaborative efforts have ensured quality content has kept flowing to you, the readers, for 10 years.
So many of you have reached out with personal phone calls, visits, and encouraging comments. It’s hard to express the gratitude and enjoyment they have brought. Thank you! Each All Aboard Wheat Harvest corespondent shared a unique perspective on the Amercian wheat harvest, and I am both proud and humbled to tell my family’s story of agriculture from our first-hand experience. It’s sad our season of time shared together has come to an end, however, we can all look forward to reuniting for the 2019 harvest that’s already being prepared.
Until then let’s enjoy the special memories that we have made and the unique connection to the land we feel together. After all, this is why we labor…for the love of the harvest.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.