Brian: Worth the wait

Onida, South Dakota—After 16 days of sitting still, the crew has finally started harvesting spring wheat here in central South Dakota. It looks like it’s been worth the wait. The dry down has seemed agonizingly slow, and abnormally cloudy and cool weather hasn’t done much to speed things along. But waiting until most of the green sucker heads produced viable kernels before spraying to desiccate the immature wheat paid off. It has resulted in the spring wheat yielding 30 to 40 bushels per acre in this area. After enduring this much drought stress and emerging so unevenly, no one really expected the yield to be this good. However, low test weights ranging from 55 to 58 pounds were accurately predicted.

It seems like forever since we harvested, but we’re enjoying the large fields of South Dakota. Seeding tracks, combine tracks and sprayer tracks head off in every direction when viewed from above.

Of course we had to reassemble the team before we could go back to work. It was encouraging to find our crops here in Iowa looking so good with timely rains, but heat indexes over 110 degrees reminded how I do not miss the oppressive summer humidity in Iowa. I had a great time visiting family and friends while home. I managed to work in a mini trip to Omaha before returning to South Dakota. My love of cars found me attending an exclusive car show, and visiting Omaha’s amazing 100-acre botanical garden complex.

It’s a little odd to wake up in Iowa, but I enjoyed my time visiting family and friends. After living in Omaha for 10 years, this visit was extra fun with a spiffy car show and the Lauritzen Botanical Gardens.

After returning from their fantastic trip to Yellowstone, the rest of the crew determined it was unlikely harvesting would wrap up before school started for the Hamer boys. It was decided Brenda would head home with the boys to be ready for the new academic year, so I left early in the morning from Iowa and drove back to Onida. Less than an hour after arriving, the pickup was packed and Brenda was headed back to Iowa with all the essentials to move back home. It was a quick “turn and burn” 18-hour trip. David returned from Minnesota the following morning. During our spring (wheat) break, the crew’s various travel itineraries had us traveling over 5,000 miles as we galavanted all over the Midwest.

Brian heads back to South Dakota, making a quick pit stop at the famous Corn Palace in Mitchell. Brenda and boys pack up a summer’s worth of belongings in under an hour and head back to Iowa for school.

With everyone finally relocated for the balance of summer harvest, the crew is trying to adjust to our new schedules. Titus is busy practicing tackling for the upcoming football season while Ezra, Judah, Canaan and Brenda tackle back-to-school shopping. Vernelle keeps extra busy as she is now solely responsible for laundry and meal preparation, and I’m finding myself a little rusty at basic combine operator skills like unloading into the semis without spilling any wheat. This summer has been unlike any we’ve seen in over 40 years, and it’s tested our patience at times. The past few weeks included a lot of seat time, but we all have to agree … the traveling scenery, sunflower sunsets and surprising yields have made it worth the wait.

Nature offers so much beauty in a variety of ways. Foggy Iowa mornings, cobalt blue skies, and beautiful flower gardens have entertained the crew the past few weeks as we traveled over 5,000 miles.

Brian Jones can be reached at

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is brought to you by Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc.High Plains Journal, New HollandITC Holdings CorpU.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc., Kramer Seed Farms and Lumivia Insecticide Treatment by Corteva Agriscience.

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