20 Jul Brian: Harvesting wind and wheat in southwest Kansas
Minneola, Kansas—Harvest continues to roll along here in southwest Kansas since we last got together. Hot, windy weather has let us put in a long stretch of working days, wrapping up our first harvest stop in Sublette, Kansas, in record time. With equipment loaded we moved approximately 50 miles east to Minneola, Kansas, and immediately went to work at our second job.
Blue skies and hot, windy days greet us in Minneola, Kansas. We get right to work at our second Kansas stop after moving from Sublette without any rain delays.
We have only not harvested one out of the last 18 consecutive days, meaning the crew has covered a lot of acres, but we are also growing a little weary. I’ve lost count, but I know we have been in over 30 different fields. The wheat in the area has been very good, especially compared to last year’s drought-stricken and weedy fields. Many in the area are seeing yields over 60 bushel per acre with test weights around 62 pounds and high protein levels. A very high-quality crop this year.
The sun sets on another day of harvest, filling the sky with bursts of color as far as the eye can see across the flat prairies of Kansas.
Perfect weather and field conditions don’t mean every day goes perfect. An old metal fence post found its way into the header, breaking a metal finger that required replacing. It’s a relatively inexpensive and quick fix, but triple-digit temperatures mean metal surfaces can become so hot gloves are required to keep from burning your hands. Even the black canvas belts are nearly too hot to kneel on.
We spent the 4th of July in the field harvesting … no holidays for wheat harvesters. However we did enjoy a few pops of color in the sky after dark from local fireworks displays off in the distance to mark this important day in American history. While some gathered for fireworks, we worked gathering the grain that helps feed the world … but still managed to celebrate the day with some homemade cherry pie. What could be more American than harvest and cherry pie?
Red (combine), white (towers) and blue (skies) … the 4th of July is spent harvesting fields of golden wheat. I’m not sure what’s more American than wheat harvest … but we did enjoy some homemade cherry pie the girls brought to the field to help celebrate the day.
There has been some hail in the area, and there are some fields with wind damage as well. Previous torrential rains have left some mud holes in the fields and terrace channels, but we have been able to harvest without issue for the most part. We are also enjoying utilizing a grain cart at this stop that is provided by the farmer. This really allows us to boost our productivity while unloading “on the go” and still harvesting, covering nearly a record number of acres each day.
Unloading “on the go” adds an extra boost to our productivity here. It’s a fun change of pace for the combine operators, but the truck drivers may have a different take on it … they are kept very busy!
This area has a beautiful wheat crop this year, offering plenty of great photo opportunities. White wind turbines stand tall, contrasted against the blue sky backdrop. Golden wheat adds a dash of color to the landscape this time of year.
We also enjoy the unique scenery in this area of some very large wind turbine farms, with over 300 scattered amongst our fields and the surrounding area. I find it unique how farmers are collaborating with energy companies to not only harvest food and fiber, but also harvest wind energy to fuel our nation. These turbines are some of the largest/highest output in the world, and it’s quite the experience to stand at the bottom of them or harvest under them … they are much bigger than one realizes.
The crew takes a few minutes out of the day to eat a delicious hot meal together in the shade of a wind turbine tower. When you stand under these monsters you are given a new appreciates for their size and scale, which is … big! It’s all about perspective (and sometimes camera angles).
Wheat and wind turbines … working together to provide our country food and fuel. Would you like to see them up close? Maybe ride along in the combine and check out a unique perspective few get to see? I can help you with that … just click the video link below and take a few minutes to tag along with the crew in the field. Why tell you about it when you can see it for yourself? Enjoy the view!
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Be sure to join the conversation by leaving a question or comment. Brian can be reached at Brian@allaboardharvest.com.