Harvest 2021 yielded many challenges—yet again

Dave Bergmeier

Producers throughout the High Plains are always anxious to get their crops out of the fields and they want to hear how others are doing too.

That is no surprise to those who have been provided regular fall harvest coverage. Christy Paplow and Kimberly Neumiller, our All Aboard Fall Harvest contributors, have been giving readers coverage from the fall harvest trail. This year was our maiden voyage of the All Aboard Fall Harvest program. Inside this edition we have dedicated pages to salute the harvesters and tout our harvest sponsors. As a bonus we will share top photos from our All Aboard Fall Harvest contest.

The All Aboard Fall Harvest campaign’s premise was to get a slice of how spring planted crops were producing across the High Plains region. Built off the popular and successful model of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest, Publisher Zac Stuckey and Special Projects and Events Manager Kylie Reiss developed a plan that made it a natural extension. That vision was launched in September and carried through what is the traditional fall harvest run.

Paplow and Neumiller shared the challenges of getting combines into fields whether from weather or logistics. As their harvest trail takes them farther north they let us know how snow delayed harvest for several days. Many farmers who cut their own crops in the northern Plains shared similar stories.

Heading into the harvest season farmers worried about parts availability because of supply chain disruptions. Fortunately we did not hear of many stories where combines were shut down for extended periods.

No harvest season is challenge-free. Finding help to run combines, grain carts and semi-tractor trailers continues to be a pressing issue as the need for technology increases. These important items will continue.

Farmers have shown remarkable resiliency and adaptability. The “big chill” this past February had a lingering impact as natural gas became very tight and impacted the fertilizer market. Growers who were able to contract ahead will have solid bottom lines this year but they know they may have to look at 2022 season differently than 2021.

However, the farmer’s mentality of being an “optimist” is playing in their favor as they study what changes they need to make next year.

We can say that the stories described in our correspondents’ reports matched up with what producers were also saying throughout the High Plains. When growers were providing reports that despite a lingering drought during the growing season, corn, soybean and sorghum harvests captured enough moisture, whether by Mother Nature or irrigation, that it made yield monitors jump. Investment in drought-resistant technology in crops continues to be a story that exceeds all of our expectations.

Much like farmers and ranchers who are looking at new crop rotation or changing a cropping practice there is a certain amount of uncertainty that enters through the process but when results reinforce the planning process that is a reason to celebrate.

High Plains Journal’s approach to our coverage plan was to address challenges, measure results and implement plans for 2022. The 2021 All Aboard Fall Harvest campaign was a successful launch in its first year and we hope that readers found it to be as enlightening as we did.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].