Christy: Holding steady

Fort Benton, Montana—Another busy week has gone by, and we’ve seen more of the same great yields as when we started. Our crew by Carter wrapped up this week on winter wheat and moved over by the Highwood Mountains until spring wheat is ready. The wheat by the mountains is making around 70 bushels per acre.

Finishing up winter wheat by Carter. Our grain cart was down for repair for a couple of days, so the guys learned a new skill dumping directly into the semi.

Two machines have been working on field peas around the Highwood area. Field peas are doing well in the mid 50s for bushels per acre. It’s very slow going, and since we split into more groups than we have grain carts, they have been dumping directly into the trucks. It takes quite a while for the truck to be full, so only one truck driver is needed even for two combines.

A little further down the road from Highwood by Waltham, a crew working on wheat had to dump some loads in a pile in the field. The elevator started rejecting loads because protein was too low. Bin space needs to be saved for barley, as it could be anywhere from 10 to 12 months before barley can be hauled in to the malt plants. So for the time being it’ll be piled up in the field and picked back up at a later date.

The pile of wheat where the truck was unloading in one corner of the field.

Paul’s crew started barley this week. It’s a good crop yielding anywhere from 60 to 80 bushels per acre.

Barley fields look nice. It’s slow moving through the crop, but yielding nicely.

Conditions for cutting have been absolutely perfect. That was until the weekend when lots of clouds rolled in. Saturday saw thick clouds that finally let out enough sprinkles to shut everyone down. Sunday the rain steadily poured all morning into lunchtime and we actually got a full rain day, which is very rare. It’ll be a slow start this morning, and hopefully this afternoon we’ll get going again. We took full advantage of the down time and took Zoey school shopping. I can’t remember Paul doing school shopping much, so it was great family time spent.

Clouds above that threatened all morning. We were able to cut on Saturday afternoon for a little while, then rained out for the evening and all day Sunday.
Troubleshooting some issues while clouds delayed combining.

Gary and Rhonada have been back home trying to pound out a few wheat acres for our farmer there that we do a lot of fall crop for. It was a no-go for them as well with rain putting a stop to things. They got quite a bit more rain and it could be Tuesday before he gets back in the field. I don’t think we’ll see them join us back out here until the weekend.

It seems early, but today we did send a couple of combines out to North Dakota. There are field peas ready to be cut. Patrick left with the crew early this morning after a short fog delay and they should make it this afternoon if all goes smoothly. They might even get started yet today.

Time always flies here in Montana. We’ve put in a lot of hours in the last two and a half weeks, and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. Before I know it, Zoey and I will need to make our way home so she can start school. I can’t believe that’s coming up in about two weeks. If we get done here in Montana, it would be really great to help move everything over to North Dakota, and then be that much closer for the long drive home. We’ll see what happens.

Christy Paplow can be reached at

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