Jon’s 15 Acres—October 2015

October 26, 2015

Harvest is almost finished. The hard work of farmers is paying off, and soon there will be some rest after weeks of long days in the field. When I was at the farm helping harvest, our days started at about 6:30 am and went until about 11:30 pm.

I thought my primary job was going to be running loads from the field to the grain bins via semi truck. I did do some of that, but as it turned out, I ended up driving a tractor hauling the grain cart the most.

The grain cart is a huge wagon that can hold 750 bushels. It is equipped with an auger to unload the harvested grain. Since the combine cannot hold too much, it is the job of the grain cart to catch up to the combine in the field. The combine unloads its grain into the cart on the go, ideally without stopping. Once done, the grain cart races to the semi and unloads to the semi trailer.

It’s funny, last month I talked about my aversion to driving machinery solo due to my inexperience. Harvest requires all hands on deck and thus throws that notion out the window. The good news is that after 11 hours of driving the tractor and hauling the grain cart, I became moderately proficient!

There are three rules I gleaned from harvest.

  1. Don’t break anything. If you do, you could hurt someone or slow harvest down.
  2. Don’t spill any grain! There are several dozen ways this can happen. Paying close attention to detail and working together can ensure no money gets left on the roadside.
  3. The combine never stops. Farmers have a small window during which they can bring in their crops. A combine supported by a team of grain carts, semi trailers, grain bins and their operators can ensure timeliness and efficiency.

By now I bet you are dying to know what the yield was on my 15 acres! I am happy to report that my 15 acres yielded just shy of 190 bushels per acre.

When I did my yield estimate I forecasted 201 bushels per acre. There were parts of my field that yielded much more than 201, and parts that were under. Overall, I’m very happy with my crop. Perhaps next time I will enlist the help of an agronomist to see if I can get my estimate a little bit closer!

Thank you for following my farming journey this summer. I gained some new skills and learned a lot about what it takes to sow, tend and harvest corn. I hope you did as well!

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