Brian: Making the grade

Thomas, Oklahoma — With school out across the country, students are enjoying time away from the classroom and taking a break from learning. It’s summertime, filled with swimming, slushies and sleeping in. But out here on the harvest trail, life has enrolled us in summer school, and there have been plenty of teachable moments. This week has tested our resolve a few times, so let’s review what we’ve learned and hand out some grades.

The unsettled weather earlier in the week earned a D, bringing high humidity and storms to much of Oklahoma. The wheat is ready to cut, but these showers have slowed our progress in the field. While we all appreciated a little extra down time after the exhaustion the first week of harvest brings, we have plenty of work to do here and need to getting rolling. However, the forecast for the next week looks to be A+ with few warm, windy weather and few chances of rain.

The wheat crop is also rated A+, especially compared to the last few years. While a few more timely rains would have produced a bumper crop in western Oklahoma, most farmers are very pleased with this year’s yields. There are still signs of drought in some fields, but overall most fields are averaging 35-40 bushels per acre. We’ve cut a few that have been more than 50. Test weights has been in the low 60’s, and good protein content has made for a high quality crop.

But it’s not all been summer vacation fun. We seem to have started the most unwanted annual tradition here in Oklahoma, the Deere combine running over a deer antler. At this point I don’t know if we are defying the odds or if the odds are now in our favor, but on the second day of harvest, we again impaled dual tires. I’ve lost track of how many times this has happened over the last few years, and it’s always on a 100-degree day. It’s never an easy task to manhandle those 2,000-pound tires in the field, and this experience earned a failing grade. Of course, dropping my laptop and breaking the screen also earned an F this week, creating a hilariously small viewing area in which I still managed to compose the words you are reading now.

They say you never stop learning, and the summer school of harvest has taught us a few lessons in patience and persistence. Overall the week’s events averaged out to a C+, and that’s probably doing pretty good, but we are getting a little concerned with our slow progress, as a few fields in southern Kansas have already been harvested. We have a lot of acres left to go here, and we know the pressure is on to wrap up and get moved north as soon as possible. Our customers depend on us to always make the grade, and we don’t want to be late to Kansas. That’s a surefire way to earn an F, so it looks like we’ll be working hard this week to earn extra credit. The last thing we want is to end up in detention wearing a dunce hat.

Brian Jones can be reached at

Thank you to our 2024 All Aboard Wheat Harvest sponsors: High Plains Journal, Lumivia by Corteva Agriscience, Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., Merit Auctions, Kramer Seed FarmsShelbourne Reynolds and U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.


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