Christy: Great golden fields

Combining by Highwood.

Fort Benton, Montana—Crops here in Montana are by far the best we’ve cut this year. We’ve split into three groups, combining by Highwood and Carter. Yields are anywhere from 60 to 120 bushels per acre, and so far not a single weed in sight. Protein is running a little low, but the bushels are exceeding what our farmers were expecting. Speculation is that a wet June really boosted crops after it has been really dry. It’s still dry, but that rain came at the right time and crops just look really great out here.

A little rain tried to popup on us, but it moved on before it could drop any sprinkles.

On the down side, we are seeing a lot of rocks. It’s very rocky country out here and the combine operators are constantly cleaning rocks out of their traps and belts. By Highwood, the farmer did swath quite a few acres and we picked up a lot of windrows. This was a lot easier on the combines as fewer rocks are picked up and not going through the machine. It sounds like we may be doing more windrows in the future.

Rocks like these are constantly being picked up. Our operators stop quite often to clean them off.
By Carter, Will cleans his head of rocks after grabbing his lunch.

Sawfly damage has also been an issue with some wheat lying over. It’s slower going to combine, but it’s still easier than working through all the weeds we saw in Kansas. We’ve seen sawfly damage other years too, but it does seem to be getting a little worse. Thankfully the wheat is still good.

Combining by Highwood, some fields are not as damaged by the sawflies as others.

With great crops to cut, come a lot of hours to be put in. Our crew hasn’t seen a week where there haven’t been rain delays and days off, so they’re really getting a work out. I did see some rain chances in the forecast for later this week, but it seems like even with chances it never rains much while were here harvesting. We’ve still got a lot of work to do yet, so with good weather we should keep moving pretty steadily along.

Gary’s crew in Kansas still hasn’t made it out here to Montana. They have two combines still working with stripper heads by Colby, Kansas. Same issue that we saw while we were all there, it just doesn’t stop raining. With all the rain, even after the sun comes back out, the roads are left muddy and unable to drive over. I didn’t hear yet if they finished up last night or not, but I hope so. We could use those two machines out here. It’ll be a little easier trip heading out here for Gary’s crew with less equipment and vehicles.

Zoey and I have been incredibly busy taking care of the guys, but we have made time for a few bike rides and ice cream breaks. It’s just beautiful out here, and a really great place to ride. I hope things will maybe slow down a bit here in a couple of weeks so we can visit some of the museums, and eventually we’ll need to slip in back to school shopping. That’ll be here before we know it.

Zoey and I on one of bike rides on the bridge over the Missouri River.

With a good-looking forecast, we should see the end of winter wheat soon and move on to barley. The winter wheat has been yielding well, and I think we’ll see the same as we move over to barley. It’s been a really awesome start to our Montana wheat harvest.

Christy Paplow can be reached at

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