Reaping the Harvest; starting with soil sampling, seed selection, planting, fertilizing, spraying, and praying for rain; gathering the crop that we work so hard to produce, at the peak of our abilities. We operate two combines and two grain carts in the field. Unloading on the go from the combines to the grain cart, creating optimum efficiency. Our truck lineup will vary, depending on distance to the elevator and the yield of the crop. Four semi’s and two straight trucks are usually sufficient to keep the combines moving forward. We usually work fourteen to sixteen hours each day starting with fueling and repairing first thing in the morning. Quickly learned skills in the combine are eating, talking on the radio, and answering the cell phone, all while unloading on the go. We always try to get the share crop farms harvested first so there is less likely a chance of weather loss.
For wheat we use shelbourne headers to leave all the stubble standing as possible. Stripper header harvested stubble provides more moisture conserving benefits than conventionally harvested stubble.
Research has found that the stripped wheat stubble reflects heat, reducing evaporation; increases water infiltration; slows down the wind, furthering reducing evaporation; traps snow and, ultimately, increases soil water storage. With only 20 inches annual moisture, we have to do everything we can to prevent evaporation and runoff. The value of one inch of stored water can equal an average of 25 additional dollars per acre, depending on the crop. The result of moisture conservation is usually quite evident the first week of May, when corn planting begins, as the ground is quite moist under the blanket of straw.
The grain cart operators monitor the scales which is on an ipad, which can also be viewed from the combine via bluetooth to the iphone. Each load is recorded on each field and a summary can be e-mailed back to the office for printing. The second cart we run in fall crops keep a written record which is added to the electronic record after each field is completed. This final summary includes cart scales weight, time loaded, field, gps location, and elevator account number. This helps keep everything straight when checking ticket errors by totaling loads for each field. Every morning before the crew gets rolling every ticket from the day before is checked with the cart print out and entered on a field worksheet. The tickets from each field is then attached and filed for future reference. At the end of harvest, data from the combines can be downloaded and printed for the file as well which includes yield from every portion of the field. This data is important to the landlords and the insurance agent who keeps a record of average yield history.
We carry Federal Crop Insurance and report our yields after each harvest to build an average for each field. The price of insurance depends on the level we choose. We typically use a 70% level, picking the point of “Best bang for our buck”. In the event of a loss, the insurance price (obtained from a futures average during the month of harvest) will be multiplied by 70% of our proven yield. Very important to have good yield averages.
Wheat Harvest 2018
Wheat harvest has been good the last couple of years and this year followed suit. With a whole farm average in the mid 70’s and prices pushing $5.00, we felt very blessed. We did apply a fungicide at flag leaf stage once again that undoubtedly helped our yields as rust has been an issue the last few years. We had 2-5 bushel per acre shatter loss due to high winds received in June, all varieties were affected. We planted Byrd, Chrome, Monument, Ruth, Rubadoux, and Grainfield. Byrd was consistently the best this year, followed by Ruth then Monument.
- Whole farm average was 74 bushels per acre.
- Test weights ranged from 58 to 62 pounds per bushel.
- Grain moisture content averaged around 10.5%.
- The highest yield was 88 bushels per acre.
- The lowest yield was 37 bushels per acre (hail loss)
- The stubble left for ecofallow is tremendous.
Corn Harvest 2018
This year we began planting with a good profile of moisture. Planting went well and emergence was very good. Rains throughout the summer were not great in abundance, but adequate and great timing. What looked like an early harvest in the making, turned out to be later than usual with difficulty in getting the grain to dry down. Our whole farm average was 164 bushels per acre on dryland and 233 on irrigated, which are the best yields we have ever received.
- Test weights ranged from 61 to 63 pounds per bushel.
- Grain moisture content averaged around 16.5%.
- The dryland corn averaged 164 bushels per acre.
- The highest dryland yield was 195 bushels per acre.
- The lowest dryland yield was 112 bushels per acre.
- The highest irrigated yield was 244 bu/A.
We completed harvesting corn by the middle of November, after the first snowfall of the season delayed us a few days.