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         Fall Harvest
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The Very Busy Time of Year

            Fall harvest for me is very different than the summer wheat harvest.  For one thing every acre I cut is within 40 miles of my place and 95% is with in 20 miles of my place.  That means I sleep in the same bed in the same place every night. The other thing, I just have one full time hired man.  Many times the college age boys that helped me in the summer come out on Saturdays and Marty my oldest son helps a lot when he gets off work and on Saturdays.  The reason I do not need to much help in the fall is that every farmer I cut for with the exception of one or two does their own hauling.  That does make it a lot simpler for me but it also cuts down on almost half the revenue.  With the traditionally higher yields of the fall crops compared to wheat it is important to have a good grain cart driver.  That’s where my part time help is able to help me the most.

 

Fall Harvest Report 2001 

 About a week or so after we got home from Tribune I was sitting in the bathroom, reading the FASTLINE magazine, custom harvesters are known for their ability to multitask, and I saw that Radke Implement had two 1998, 2388 combines that were equipped pretty much like I would want them if I was thinking about trading for some. You noticed I said, if I was thinking about trading, I have traded combines one other time between wheat harvest and fall harvest, but that is not normally the time I like to trade.  But since I didn’t have anything better to do at the time, and since I had my cell phone in the bathroom with me I decided to give Harlan a call to get more details. This is the same place I traded last time so I was familiar with the dealership and the way they do business. I was a little concerned when he told me how many hours they had, but otherwise they sounded like they might be the kind of machines I could use. I set a day and a time with Harlan that I would go and look at his combines.

Two days later I got in my pick-up and drove to Milberger, Kansas home of Radke Implement.  What, you never heard of Milberger, Kansas?  Well most people haven’t unless they bought a combine there any time in the last fifty years.  Milberger is three miles west of Hi-way 281 on a dirt road about 35 miles north of Great Bend.  That makes it exactly 100 miles from my place, just far enough away so I don’t have their combine sales man driving on my yard three times every year trying to trade combines with me.  Milberger consists of two metal buildings, that’s Radke Implement, and then I think there are two or three houses there also.  Although they are in the middle of nowhere, they have sold hundreds of combines the last fifty years, and many to return customers.

Any way when I got there and looked at the combines that I talked to Harlan about on the phone I could see that they had been “run hard and put away wet” and it would be impossible to do all the repairs on them before the fall harvest would be ready.  Harlan then told me that he had two 2000 2388s that were twins and had less then 150 hours on them.  He said, “I ‘m sure you’ll like them much better”.  I said, “I’m sure I will, but I doubt that my banker will”.  These two combines needed nothing done to them except an oil change and they were “like new”.  After some negotiating I made a deal that I felt my banker and I could live with and most importantly one that would make Mary happy.  Remember, “Keep Mary happy, and make Keith rich”. 

I have one large farmer that I cut for in the McPherson area.  I usually have one combine on his place nearly full time from the beginning of harvest till the last day and the other combine on the other smaller farms.  I usually run the combine that’s running for the large farmer and my neighbor Richard Stucky is kind enough to run the other one for me on the smaller farms.

This year fall harvest started on the 8th of August.  That is by far the earliest I have ever started.  Good thing I didn’t go to South Dakota this year to cut wheat.  The first thing I cut with my new combines was, sunflowers.  A few days after the flowers were cut some dry land corn was ready.  By the 25th of August we were going full swing in irrigated corn, a full ten days ahead of normal.  I have very seldom cut irrigated corn in August.  By mid September most of the corn had already been cut and we were going strong in irrigated soybeans and early milo.   By mid October we were in the winding down stage of harvest.  That means all the nice fields had been cut and we were dealing with a few small ugly weedy patches of dry land soybeans and double crop milo.

By the way if I were to ask any of you where you were, and what you were doing on the morning of September 11th most of you would know exactly.  I was at the elevator in one of my trucks waiting in line to unload a load of corn when the country music playing on the radio was interrupted with the news of the attack on the W.T.C.  All day long I listened to the news reports on the radio in the combine and it only got worse.  What a terrible day for our country.  

As for the yields of the crops in this area, the extreme heat and lack of rain in July, took a heavy toll on all the dry land crops.  The sunflowers that we cut were light and low in oil content. The dry land corn & milo yields were 30-50 bu., about 40 % of the last few years. The dry land soybeans were 5-15 bu., about 30% of previous years.  For me the irrigated corn was the bright spot of the fall harvest.  Most of it was far enough along when it got so hot in July that it didn’t hurt it any.  It only made it mature faster.  I cut several fields that were right at 200 bu. per acre and most of it was in the 175 bu. range.  That’s pretty good for this area.  I think the heat hurt the irrigated soybeans some too.  Most of the irrigated beans were 45-55 bu. I usually cut some 60 bu. beans and I didn’t cut any this year.  I haven’t got quite all the totals in yet, but we cut about 250 acres more than last year, most of that was added acres by the large farmer by McPherson.  I think the number of bushels will be very close to last year, but the average yield will be down in every thing but the irrigated corn.  

We had one very welcome three-day rain delay in late September.  The rain wasn’t welcomed for the harvesting but we sure did need it for planting the wheat.  I cut the last double crop milo field on October 30th.  The next day I officially closed the 2001 Harvest season by washing the combines, and in 70 degree warm weather. Very unusual!

Oh yeah, the new combines, they ran flawlessly.

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