In our pre-harvest safety meeting, I asked the question: "When is corn harvest over?" The answer is when the last kernel of corn comes out of the dryer. Well, we're not combining corn yet, but the last kernel of wheat came out of the dryer on Wednesday, September 5th....so we're done with wheat harvest! But prior to harvest we had to make sure everything was ready, just like Herlof.
In the above picture, you'll see that Herlof wrote "NDSU" on one combine and "FARM" on the other combine. You'll also see that Herlof wrote "L" on top of the John Deere tractor for Landis, "J" on one truck for Big John, and "E" on the other truck for Eddie. Sometimes I think Herlof is more prepared than we are!
We were getting our equipment ready and were excited to begin harvest on what looked like a decent spring wheat crop. But on Saturday, August 4th, we had a hail storm travel over several quarters of land that we farm. We had several fields of wheat that had significant hail damage, which was very disappointing. Fortunately, we covered most of our fields with hail insurance this year, which offset some of the loss from the hail but will not cover the total loss from the storm.
In the above picture, you can see many stems on the right side bent over because they were hit by hail. You can also see wheat heads laying on the ground, and seeds that have been knocked off heads laying on the ground. The storm didn't slow down maturity of the crop, so harvest was still ahead and we were ready to roll.
We didn't paint "FARM" or "NDSU" on the combines, but they were well-serviced and calibrated by our operators. While we combine the wheat, not only are we capturing the grain - which is the main reason we farm - but we also are preparing our ground for next year. We pay very close attention to how high we cut the wheat plants, how well we chop the straw, and make sure that we are spreading the residue as evenly as possible. The reason for this is that we will be planting either pinto beans or soybeans directly into this residue next spring.
We started combining on August 9th. The grain was dry and the weather was mostly hot. We were making very good progress through the wheat crop. Yields on the fields that didn't get hail were close to what we were expecting. Fields that had hail definitely showed a yield loss.
We made good progress through our early, dry wheat. But then we hit some wetter wheat. That's when I started the grain dryer. We prefer to not dry our crops, but we want to harvest our crops when they are in good condition rather than wait too long and grain loses quality and color in the field.
As we saw the end of combining getting close, we all get a little more excited. We are so thankful to have such a great group of guys on the farm who are so skilled at what they do. I'm proud of the work we do on our farm, and we wouldn't get it done without them.
Every day during combining we stop for about 20 minutes or so to have supper. It's good to have a physical and mental break to help us keep going in the evening. And it's very good for us to visit with each other to make sure we're all doing our best.
And some of the best conversations during harvest are between experienced farmers and beginners. And I think we can all classify ourselves as beginners in many aspects of everything related to harvest. The dryer is empty and wheat harvest is done.
Thank you so much for your continued support! We are blessed!