23 May Brian: Never enough time…
Greenfield, Iowa – It’s hard to believe how fast the calendar pages turn some times. It seems like I was updating you on wheat harvest progress just a few weeks ago, but in reality nearly 12 months have flown by. But this year Jones Harvesting is measuring time in a different way…in decades. Four decades to be exact.
That’s a lot of experience in packing up your things and hitting the road for three months, yet it still seems a little overwhelming no matter how many times you have done it before. Perhaps the hardest part is just getting it done in the time frame given you, and every year that is different. Unlike some crews that custom harvest exclusively, running your own farm when not in a wheat field adds a different dynamic. Spring time is already crammed full of farm activities like tending to baby calves, hauling grain, applying fertilizer and chemical for the upcoming growing season. And then there is the big one – planting.
Unfortunately, Springtime has not been very cooperative this year. Winter weather has stuck around far longer than necessary, delaying us waking the farm from its off-season hibernation. Last minute July snow storms and unfriendly windchills are not great motivators to spending time outdoors doing tasks that require gloveless hands. Snow-covered tractors sitting in fields indicated we are ready to get serious about work….but the weather is not.
Eventually the season will change, but it feels like we have been robbed of precious time to completing a bazillion tasks before our departure. The pasture grass has grown so slow we still have nearly all the cattle to move to their summer home. Corn and soybean planting is weeks behind schedule, and cloudy days and frequent rains are making slow progress of drying damp soil. Delays like this aren’t unusual, but they are stressful when hot, windy weather is pushing the wheat to maturity earlier than normal. Extreme drought has persisted across much of the Plains states, and the winter wheat crop is not doing very good almost anywhere you look down South.
The latest USDA report estimates only 1% of the wheat crop is rated “excellent” in Oklahoma while 52% is rated “poor/very poor” there. It’s not going to be the start to wheat harvest 2022 anyone hoped for. We also did not hope to see two countries that produce 1/3 of the world’s wheat supply to be at war with each other. Those events may be half way around the globe, but they hi light the importance of the work wheat producers and harvesters do here in America.
This year, more than ever, every kernel counts. Jones Harvesting is counting down the days until we find ourselves in the wheat fields of Oklahoma. After 40 years we have come to learn one thing…it never gets easier to leave. We have also come to learn somehow we always make it on time. We are on rain delay here with planting again, and the forecast is filled with rain over the next 10 days. Something tells me I better grab 40 quick winks of sleep. The next week is going to be VERY busy!
Brian Jones can be reached at email@example.com.
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