Janel: Better wheat up the road

Frederick, Oklahoma—Hello again, All Aboard Wheat Harvest followers! Harvest is finally here and, as always, it’s great to be back in the wheat fields of the Great Plains of America! However, I’m disappointed in the yields so far. This area of southwest Oklahoma was beat bad by freeze in April.

The wheat was looking outstanding, too, and then Mother Nature was so mean. We lost several thousands of acres and several days of work due to the freeze. The wheat is yielding anywhere from 10 to 45 bushels per acre.  It makes me wonder what it would’ve been without the freeze damage. So many fields were baled up or sprayed. Also, it makes me wonder how many probably should have been harvested anyways.  It’s a loss and disappointment that’s for sure. The yields just aren’t good and the farmers seem to be in no hurry to get their wheat cut. The test weights have been 59 to 63 pounds per bushels which to me is very surprising after a freeze. One field of wheat I harvested had very high protein, too, that was 17%. That’s very good.

At least we are having decent harvesting weather! Getting here and going straight to the field is exactly what I needed. I’m always so stressed about harvest in the spring and then once it starts it’s a great feeling because a lot of hard work goes into this occupation. It’s amazing to make all of this work. Now it’s back to fuel, grease, chaff and dirt. Also, early mornings, late nights and trying to keep track of the field names and grain tickets and so much more. We also have new crew members and so a lot of training goes on.  It’s more than a full-time job. It’ll be a miracle to get out of our first stop without any rain! It wouldn’t take much to make it really muddy here and I say no thanks to that!

I hauled grain during the harvest off-season and then worked for many weeks getting things ready for harvest. I hauled equipment south for harvest three times. The first trip down I drove a truck hauling two grain trailers and my dad hauled a combine and header and we switched part way. The second trip down I hauled a tractor and grain cart and my dad hauled a combine and header. Then the third trip we had a crew finally and got the supporting equipment down here including campers. We traveled here on May 26 and went straight to the field and have been cutting ever since. Everything is so fast and busy but that’s my life story as I’ve been a harvester since I was born. Sometimes I lose track of the days and can’t remember what day of the week it is. All of my days run together and that’s why summer always goes by so fast for me because I’m so busy with wheat harvest. There’s no place like harvest—it is rough and tough at times—but I know how to make it enjoyable and make the best of it! After all, I get to harvest with my family and Miss Moo and that’s the best!

Another disappointment is that there weren’t any harvest kickoff breakfasts and safety meetings. The Case and MacDon meetings were both cancelled due to the pandemic. I missed seeing everybody but hopefully will get a chance to visit with harvester friends somewhere on the road. I’m expecting a busy harvest. The wheat up the road in Oklahoma and Kansas is looking good so we’ve got that to look forward to! Best of luck to all the harvesters and please be safe!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., BASF, AgriPro, Gleaner and High Plains Journal.