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Christy: In the land of bales

The last field of winter wheat north of Carter, Montana. Combines were spread out in the field and it was hard to catch them all.

Fort Benton, Montana—We have finished winter wheat in this area—unless we get some calls to help when we’re caught up—and have now moved on to field peas, barley, lentils, and spring wheat. Chickpeas have been sprayed, and they will be in our near future.

Over by Highwood, one of our crews started spring wheat. As I drove up to bring lunch today, I couldn’t believe the amount of round bales. They do massive amounts of baling out here, and the fields that are large in size make it appear that the bales just go on for miles. It’s really pretty scenery. The spring wheat turned out to be too wet, so they moved over to try something else.

South of Highwood, bales are as far as the eyes can see.
Another view of hundreds, maybe even thousands of bales.

Luke, one of our J1 trainees from Ireland, went off by himself to work on a field of lentils. I checked it out yesterday, as it is right in town and saw it does have some weeds in it. The weeds here are because these lentils are organic and couldn’t have much for chemical sprayed. I haven’t heard how they’re averaging, but it’s the only field in town that we’ll do.

Field of organic lentils right in Fort Benton.

Barley in the area did well overall, falling anywhere between 50 to 80 bushels per acre. We didn’t have a ton of barley acres, but what we did cut did well. After barley was completed, Paul moved his crew up north of Carter. They worked on the last field of winter wheat that came in at the mid 60s for bushels per acre. As you go farther north, less rain hit and the winter wheat didn’t produce quite as well as what we saw by Carter and Highwood.

Winter wheat is done for now. Moving forward with other crops toward the end.

Cameron took a crew up by Chester, Montana, to work on barley. Those fields are seeing about a 50-bushel-per-acre average. This is a new customer this year, and the drive out there is a long one. I’ve needed to pack coolers for this crew because I just can’t make it that far each meal.

Between all the hustle and bustle, Paul celebrated his 40th birthday last week. We celebrated the same way we usually do on harvest, and enjoyed ice cream cake from Dairy Queen when the guys came in. The camper was pretty crowded, but it was a nice way to end the day, even if it was pretty late.

Most of the crew crowded in our camper to enjoy ice cream cake for Paul’s birthday.

We still have work in the area to accomplish, although my time is running out before I need to get home for school to start next weekend. I won’t be here to help move the last of the crew to North Dakota like I was hoping, but more combines will be needed in Ray in the next week. This will lighten the crew I’ve been responsible for with Rhonada at home with Gary working on wheat, and Chloe out in Ray with Patrick. I’ve been taking care of the majority of the crew which has been really busy, and I’m looking forward to a small break before we dive into fall harvest come mid-September.

Christy Paplow can be reached at christy@allaboardharvest.com.

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