All Aboard Harvest | Laura: Views from above
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Laura: Views from above

Wallace and Greeley County, Kansas—One of the best things of being out in the middle of somewhere on the High Plains, is that you can actually feel your soul take a deep breath and a much needed sigh. Some people see a desolate plain, if all they’re willing to do is a 65-plus mile per hour drive by. However, you need to slow down and get off the highway to truly appreciate it. 

Out here, wheat whispers and sways with the movement of the breeze. Meadowlarks flit about and on occasion grace the listener with a song. If you’re lucky, you may see a doe with her fawn cross the road as the sun warms your face. OK, full disclosure. The sun is probably beating your face, but the rest of the description is a peaceful as it sounds and always helps me clear my mind.  

Oh, and you should probably talk to the people, too. Some of the best folks around live in these places. Case in point, the owner of local grocery store offered to allow the crew to shop, after hours, after they returned from the field. That is just one example of the behind the scenes crew that go above and beyond to make harvest successful. As I always say, it takes a village.

Western Kansas was a wonderful surprise this summer. An unexpected heavy snow storm, and a few timely rains helped boost dry land yields. The land is extremely productive when Mother Nature cooperates. Dryland averaged 40 bushels per acre with the highest field going just over 65 bushels per acre.  Irrigated averaged around 85 bushels per acre with a high of 118. Test weights were in the 60s and protein came in around 13% when it was all said and done.  Considering the crazy conditions the year threw at them, especially with the insane windstorm last December, I think this is a huge win.   

After years of researching, debating, and researching some more, I finally got a drone and I’m having the best time learning how to use it. A friend in the area helped me with an initial test flight and then I was ready to take it out. Her maiden voyage was on a field that was a mile long. I don’t normally get too excited with materialistic items, but I have to admit that I’m smitten with this little machine. The view from above is just incredible and truly captures the impressiveness of a run that long in a way that a standard camera just can’t achieve. I have a long way to go learning all the features, but I look forward to the challenge and can’t wait to share a new perspective with you. 

Laura Haffner can be reached at

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is brought to you by ITC Holdings, CASE IH, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, US Custom Harvesters Inc., Unverferth Mfg. Co. Inc., Lumivia CPL by Corteva Agriscience, Kramer Seed Farms, and High Plains Journal.

  • Marcy McClelland
    Posted at 10:18h, 21 July

    Enjoying your posts and also enjoyed seeing your kids at the fair. The drone will be a great asset to your operation, can be used in a lot of ways. I am envious of all the things that can be done with them. Glad that some farmers had a good crop and hope it continues. We are praying for rain, please Lord.

    • Laura Haffner
      Posted at 00:14h, 25 July

      The drone has been a fun new piece of equipment! I am loving all of its capabilities. If only I have time to work on the videos.

      Yes, praying for rain. The cracks in the soil are huge. We may fall in!

  • Jason Holcomb
    Posted at 17:08h, 25 July

    You are speaking in the language of a geographer again, and this topic is something I plan to write about in my book. I will apply for a sabbatical with the goal of writing a book about custom harvesting and the Great Plains as my project. This topic is something I have thought about for decades. It irks me when I hear people say “there is nothing there” when they drive through the Great Plains, and western Kansas in particular. Harvesters know how much is there. I could go on. Unfortunately I could not make it work to help anyone with wheat harvest this year. I will try again next.

    • Laura Haffner
      Posted at 21:40h, 31 July

      That would be an awesome book IMHO! I hope it works out for you! Keep us posted on its development!