18 Jun Brian: And now for something completely different
Thomas, Oklahoma—No two years are ever alike, and that couldn’t be more the case than with this year’s Oklahoma harvest. Last year brought some of the most challenging harvest conditions we have ever seen in Thomas when heavy rains turned fields into swamps. The wheat was laid over flat on the ground, and it seemed like harvest here would never end. This year, however, was something completely different.
After we arrive, it’s clear harvest is ready to begin. We work well after dark unloading equipment and installing the dual tires so we can be ready to harvest the following day if the crop is ready.
After arriving in Thomas and unloading machines we went to work the very next day. Nine days later, we finished our last field. A quick-moving storm the first evening sent us home a few hours early, but the next afternoon hot, dry weather had us back harvesting. Long days and late nights had us to bed well after midnight each night, but it was a welcome change from the soggy beginning in years past. There was no easing into the routine of harvests … we found ourselves right in the thick of it, and no one seemed to mind.
Oklahoma is known for wheat fields embedded into grassland. The crew winds its way down red dirt trails and across multiple cattle guards as they move to a remote field surrounded by oil wells.
Watch the video below and I’ll tell you about the unexpected high yields and record-setting test weights. Then keep reading for more interesting stories and photos of our Oklahoma experience.
Glen delivers another record-setting load of wheat at Putnam, Oklahoma. It sounds made up, but the scale tickets offer proof of the highest test weights we have ever seen in 38 years of harvesting.
Oklahoma is always full of wildlife adventures. It’s not unusual to see armadillos, snakes, tarantulas, roadrunners and wild boar while traveling around. The bright red dirt is always a hallmark of Oklahoma, a constant reminder of where you are. The red soil contrasts with the golden wheat, and the sunsets can be spectacular. The terrain can get pretty wild here, and you will be hard pressed to find a field free of winding terraces. Oil wells, wind turbines and drilling rigs are often in-field obstacles to cut around, and the red gravel roads guarantee you a bumpy ride on the way to your destination.
Oklahoma welcomes us with its signature red dirt, a hallmark not repeated elsewhere over the summer.
We did have one harvesting day that was unlike any other we can remember. A strong morning wind turned in to a 40 mile-per-hour afternoon gale. Wind speeds only increased as the day went on, and some areas of Oklahoma saw over 70 mile-per-hour wind gusts. It made it nearly impossible to tarp grain trucks, but it was almost more challenging to actually get the grain into the grain trucks from the unload augers. The red dirt off a nearby field of cotton blew so badly it created a mini dust bowl event. The dust cloud could be seen for miles billowing in the air, and if you traveled on the highway the car in front of you disappeared in the dust momentarily. At midnight it was still gusty, shaking the trailer houses non-stop and rocking us to sleep or more likely keeping us awake. Oh, the joy of RV living.
A high wind warning proves to not be an exaggeration. A mini dust bowl event causes the highway near us to have low visibility, with traffic disappearing in front of you at times.
The crew takes a quick break for a hot meal delivered to the field by Vernelle and Brenda. Even with the combine used as a wind break, keeping food on your plate proved to be challenging with gusts this strong.
Oklahoma was completely different than last year, and we couldn’t be more happy about that. It was a great start to the season, but more work lies ahead in southwest Kansas. The machines are loaded, and we leave tomorrow for the Dodge City, Kansas, area. The 10-day forecast is hot and dry, and the wheat is looking pretty good, we are told. I’ll be sure and let you know what we find as soon as the Kansas harvest starts. With flat fields and irrigation circles only one thing is guaranteed, Kansas has in store for us something completely different.
The sun sets on our final day in Oklahoma as we load equipment for the move to Kansas.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Agri-Pro, Gleaner, BASF, and High Plains Journal. Join the conversation by leaving a question or comment. Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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