Laura: Air So Thick, You Could Cut It With a Knife

Texas and Northern Oklahoma — As I stepped out of the camper that Saturday morning, the air was so thick it almost stopped me like a brick wall. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but it was one of those days that it just felt like “something” exceptional could happen. I wasn’t the only one with that feeling, though. The National Weather Service issued severe weather watches across multiple states. The conditions were right, but they didn’t know exactly where the weather would be.  

With an eye to the sky and ears on the weather alerts, crew headed to the field.  About midday the heavy, humid cloud cover started to break apart, and sun added fuel to the fire. Thunderheads were building quickly all around, but fortunately they were moving away from us. We were splitting the gap, and it was a relief as we were already fighting moisture from previous rain events. It looked like our southern crew might be out of the woods.

We paused for a quick lunch before moving to the next field and playing musical vehicles. Once most of the crew got going on the new field, we headed to the next to check conditions. In that short amount of time, a thunderstorm started building up right over us. Huge drops started splattering the windshield. Within seconds it was a downpour. Luckily, back at the field it didn’t amount to much, and it wasn’t long before they were back to harvesting. Meanwhile, our crew closer to the Texas/Oklahoma border would be be rained out later that afternoon.  

This round of storms kicked off another rainy spell that added insult to saturated injury. In places, soil was already at capacity before these systems moved through. Now it would be days before the team could attempt to turn a wheel in them. Wheat still ripens despite the storms, and harvest was coming on fast further north.

The crew made memories outside the field on their days off. Some crew went to the stock yards in Fort Worth. Others saw some local car races, while rookie team members took in their first rodeos. It makes my heart happy to hear they’re checking items off their summer bucket lists.

There comes a point when you just have to run, even if conditions aren’t perfect. The “s” word, sprout, was starting to be a concern, and we had permission to get it out. In some fields, the mud put up a good fight, but the team persevered. I think we and our farmers are breathing a little easier now, and we certainly appreciate them trusting us with their acres. 

Most of the machines have now moved on to Oklahoma, but a few remain back in Texas. It’s still pretty early into our Oklahoma fields, but preliminary stats along the Oklahoma/Kansas border are showing yields of 40-50 bushels per acre. Test weights are in the low 60s, and a few loads went 14.5% protein, which reportedly excited the elevator team.

This combine was moving in for lunch, and you can see how much moisture was in the air.
The sun is adding fuel to the storm fire!
This storm just blew up right on top of us. Thankfully it moved out quickly. Here we were passing one of our trucks.
One crew was in the clear and the other was moments away from getting rained out!
While one crew escaped, the other up the road would soon get it!
Saturated fields can be deceiving. Sometimes the ground is solid, and then it gives way without warning. (Photo from Ryan)

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. Laura can be reached at

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