14 Jul Brian: Stuck on repeat
Minneola, Kansas—Going on harvest is kinda of like taking your band on tour. You travel around from location to location, putting on a few shows before moving on to your next gig. Without a doubt this year’s headlining act is Weather featuring special guests Rain and Weeds. I hope you like their hit song “Hindering Harvest,” because it’s been playing for weeks now and seems to be stuck on repeat.
Since the crew arrived here in southwest Kansas it has rained seven out of the last eight days. It’s unlike anything we have experienced in a very long time, but it’s not our first harvest plagued with wet weather. In 1991 we sat for 21 days in the rain, only managing to harvest one afternoon. In 1992 we battled terrible weeds here in Kansas from too much rain, and just a few years later in 1995 we watched 21 inches of rain fall over a one-week period. All the roads in and out of town became flooded and were closed at one point. Our machines even became stranded when floodwaters washed out the road’s bridge approaches until the county roads department repaired them. And we certainly will never forget waking up in 2016 after a 10-inch rain overnight and finding the trailer park (and our electrical cords) under water.
Weeds have started to take over many of the drought-stricken fields here. On the one day it did not rain this week we decided to cut a sample to gauge just how serious the problem had become. The results added some clarity to what the future holds for us here. In less than 500 feet the separating grates surrounding the rotor of the machine became 100% plugged with sticky weed juice mixed with straw and stems. Suddenly the grim reality of these conditions set in. The mood was bleak as we walked through the wheat with the farmer, our muddy boots reminding us the waterlogged ground is an additional challenge to consider. We discussed different harvesting scenarios, but somber faces eventually nodded in agreement that a crop insurance claim was the only viable option. All the westernmost fields we had to harvest had officially been lost to the weeds. Somehow a pat on the back to show our empathy to the producer didn’t seem nearly adequate, but we offered him encouragement by pointing out just how beneficial all the rain has been to the fall crops.
We are still confident most fields here will be combined, but every day the rain delays harvest the list of fields that become overtaken with weeds grows longer. Amazingly it didn’t rain on our Fourth of July parade, so we attended the local burger feed complete with Brenda’s homemade pies for dessert. That evening we enjoyed an impressive fireworks display, the bursts of color joined by the super moon that appeared on the horizon.
This unbelievable rainy spell has played out over and over like a broken record, but a dry forecast would sound like music to our ears right now. I think some sunny summer tunes would top the charts and help lift our spirits. Let’s hope the weather DJ mixes it up a little this week and gives us a reason to crank up the volume.
Brian Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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