All Aboard Harvest | Brian Jones – Jones Harvesting
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Brian Jones – Jones Harvesting

Brian Jones – Jones Harvesting

For 35 years, Jones Harvesting, based near Greenfield, Iowa, has made an annual trek from Oklahoma to North Dakota, harvesting golden fields of wheat for farmers who have become like family to the Jones family.

Brian Jones is a second generation custom harvester, having joined his parents, Glen and Vernelle Jones, his sister Brenda Hamer, her husband Cameron and their four young boys; and his uncle, David Rahn on the crew.

“I enjoy the traveling a lot,” said Brian, who said every place is different, as is every year. One thing remains constant, and that is the families for whom the Jones bring in the crop. “We have a couple of farmers we’ve worked for for 34 years,” he said.

The harvest run is like visiting family members, he added. They attend church, shop the aisles in the local grocery stores, and eat at the same restaurants each year. The Jones family has spent enough time in these communities that they feel like they belong there.

“If you add up the time we’ve spent in those individual stops, it seems like years that we’ve been there,” he said.

The Jones crew makes stops in Thomas, Oklahoma; Minneola and Sublette, Kansas; Big Springs, Nebraska; Onida, South Dakota and Strasburg, North Dakota. Strasburg, Brian points out, is the birthplace of Lawrence Welk. The crew harvests wheat on acreage that traces back to the band leader, he added.

The Joneses run a John Deere and Case combine, plus supporting equipment.

When not harvesting, the Joneses operate a 4th generation farm in Adair County, Iowa, where they raise corn, soybeans and have a cowherd. Brian is active in the Iowa Farm Bureau.

Onida, South Dakota—When we come to South Dakota we are always prepared to roll up our sleeves and get to work.  Serious work.  Mile-long fields, big yields, long hauls, late nights and early mornings ... this is harvesting on a grand scale, and it can be exhausting.  So the fact that we have been here for two weeks and haven't put in a full day of work yet is unexpected and a little disappointing.

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The wide open spaces of South Dakota provide views unlike any other.  Golden wheat stands in contrast to the green prairie grasses and blue skies

Big Springs, Nebraska—Sometimes we spend quite a few days (or weeks) in one place harvesting, and other times you move through a stop so quickly it seems it's time to pack up the trailer houses again before you even got re-situated from the last move.  This describes Nebraska for us this year.

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The crew arrives in Big Springs, Nebraska, and sets ups camp right before a rain storm threatens to delay the start of harvest.  This would not be the only time rain brought a full-stop to harvest during our short stay in Nebraska.   

For quite

Minneola, Kansas—It's been a whirlwind of activity, the crew running hard day after day with the hot and dry weather here in southwest Kansas.  Harvest can be hard work and long hours, but then that's not really a surprise ... it's the nature of this lifestyle.  Crews all around Kansas have capitalized on this break in the weather, making for one of the fastest and biggest harvest pushes Kansans may have seen in quite some time.

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The crop has been exceptional in the area this year, with some fields achieving the highest yields ever seen.  Farmers were grateful for (mostly

Minneola, Kansas—Harvest continues to roll along here in southwest Kansas since we last got together.  Hot, windy weather has let us put in a long stretch of working days, wrapping up our first harvest stop in Sublette, Kansas, in record time.  With equipment loaded we moved approximately 50 miles east to Minneola, Kansas, and immediately went to work at our second job.

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Blue skies and hot, windy days greet us in Minneola, Kansas. We get right to work at our second Kansas stop after moving from Sublette without any rain delays. 

 

We have only not harvested one out

Sublette, Kansas—Wow!  What a difference just a few days can make ... After the heartache Oklahoma dealt us with the rains, mud and challenging fields conditions, Kansas welcomes us with sunny skies, triple-digit temperatures and flat fields.  The weather has turned completely around, and harvesters couldn't be more happy.

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Ideal harvesting conditions make for a fast-paced harvest here in Sublette.  With the header loaded on the trailer, we are off to the next field.  What a change from Oklahoma.

We started our two stops in Kansas in reverse order from normal, meaning we are currently in the

Thomas, Oklahoma - Wow, what a way to start off the summer.  We survived frequent heavy rains, multiple hail storms, a tornado ... and more muddy fields than you could shake a stick at.  Our endurance paid off in the end, but Oklahoma was kind of a "grin and bear it" start to the season.  Check out the video below for an up-close look at some of the challenges we had to overcome with muddy fields.



The last few days of harvesting the weather finally decided to get on board with summer-like heat and wind.  The ground conditions improved, and

Thomas, Oklahoma–We arrived safely in Thomas, Oklahoma, with the equipment. A long trek we are glad to have behind us.  It took a little longer than expected, as we had to pull over on the side of the road after the engine of one of the semi's suddenly shut off and would not restart.  Narrow roads and wide loads pulled off on the shoulder are not a good combination.  Harvesters dread this type of scenario, as it leaves little room for oncoming traffic to get around our equipment.  We must be very mindful to not create any un-due

Greenfield, Iowa—The magic moment has arrived. It's the day we have been anticipating for months ... the day where all the madness of preparation is over, and the wheels start to turn as our rigs pull out of our driveway and head towards Oklahoma.

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The journey begins. We say our farewells to our farm, friends, and family and head head south for the wheat fields of Oklahoma. It's always a bittersweet moment.

 

The rainy weather mentioned in my previous blog has not improved much. This has led to a lot of delays for nearly every agricultural activity throughout

Greenfield, Iowa - Wheat harvest is just around the corner, but preparations for Summer 2019 started a long time ago.  The winter months gave us time to reevaluate the summer, consider what did and did not go so well, and look for ways to continuously improve our harvesting efforts.  

The difficult agricultural economy that has persisted makes for very tight margins between income and expenses for farmers.  Custom harvesters are finding it challenging to make their businesses profitable, too.  The largest expense for harvesters is the depreciation of the combine’s value as it racks up unusually high hours

Greenfield, Iowa—For some of you this is our first time meeting, and for others we are reconnecting again.  Either way, it’s exciting we are all here to share the 2019 wheat harvest together!

I am Brian G. Jones of Greenfield, Iowa, and I am a fourth generation farmer and a second generation wheat harvester.  I was born and raised on a family farm about 50 miles Southwest  of Des Moines in the rolling hills of Southwest Iowa.  In 1983 my father Glen Jones and grandpa George Rahn began (unknown to them at the time) a 35+ year