Brian: Can-do Kansas

Minneola, Kansas — Last week’s heavy rains threw a wrench in our harvest plans, and they foiled our attempt to finish in the Sublette area before the wheat was ready in Minneola. Suddenly all our acres were ready at once, and it left us feeling a little overwhelmed. Being in two places at the same time may be impossible, but we took the opportunity to exercise a can-do attitude here in Kansas.

The weather has kept us on our toes, ever-changing during our time spent here. Some days have been cloudy and cool with highs in the 70s, followed by a day in the 100s with heat advisories and blustery winds. Storm clouds have formed on the horizon almost every day, leading to unusually high humidities for this area. All that rain left us worried mud could cause us a lot of grief, but, fortunately, our fields fared much better than some. Four-wheel drive let us show our can-do attitude in challenging field conditions, and we finally were able to move equipment over to Minneola for our second phase of harvest here.

Some days we experience 100 degrees and heat advisories, while others have been cloudy and cool.
After heavy rains, four-wheel drive saves the day in muddy fields. Thankfully, only a few fields were this soggy.
With our Sublette job finished, it’s a two-hour road trip in the combines to the next fields in Minneola.

With all the rain lately, it’s easy to forget the exceedingly dry conditions much of this crop endured earlier in the year. Thin stands in some fields paired with heat and humidity set up ideal growing conditions for weeds. It’s nothing like last year’s outrageous weed infestation, but it was concerning enough to prioritize the order of the fields we harvested. All that green growth caused some challenges for the machines, but it was another chance to exercise that can-do attitude.

Thankfully, the week ended with improved harvesting conditions. A quick-moving storm just grazed our fields, raining only a a few tenths on us while south of town received a few inches. This gave us a late afternoon start the following day, but we also moved into better yielding wheat, averaging around 50 bushels per acre. Saturday’s rain chances had ballooned into an all but certain major rain event, motivating us to put in some late nights and keep the combines rolling.

The green undergrowth shows just how quickly weeds can grow in one week, given ideal conditions.
Weedy fields make a mess of the combines inside. Cleaning out this junk is not our favorite task.
Stormy weather shuts us down early once again, but thankfully this particular storm slipped to the south.

Our can-do attitude really paid off. We pushed hard all day Saturday, and as the sun set we moved into our final 100 acre, mile-long field. The radar showed all clear for the time being, but we knew it would be ambitious to finish that evening. Just as midnight ushered in Sunday, the combines crammed the last few bushels onto the grain cart. We had to wrestle the tarp over that final heaping cart load, but we had beat the storm. Everyone crawled into bed after 1 a.m. feeling good to have Kansas finished.

Many fields were weed-free with good yields. Wind towers are scattered amongst the wheat fields here.
The sun sets on our final field, and the dust hangs in the air to create an eerie haze ahead of the storms.
The combines finish the last field after midnight. Hours later, storms brought flash flooding for the second time in 11 days.

Only a few hours later, rolling thunder interrupted our blissful sleep. Clusters of storms eventually morphed into a large, organized complex that dumped 3-5 inches of rain over much of the area. For the second time in two weeks, a flash flood warning went into effect for the area, something that seems highly unlikely in this arid part of the world. Loading equipment could be a little tricky given the muddy conditions, but with our can-do Kansas attitude we should find ourselves in Nebraska in a few days.

Rain delays means rainy day projects. Glen washes out the radiator of his truck to prevent overheating.
The Hammer family takes advantage of a rainy day off to visit a water park in Dodge City, Kansas.
The Kansas weather is fickle. Here it can’t decide if the sun should shine as a severe storm moves in.

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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