Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Harvest: Part Six

One of many sunsets I saw from the cab of my tractor
 Soybean harvest was quite different than corn harvest in many ways. First was that it was a really strange harvest season for them. We had high humidity in the mornings of around 80% that would last until noon before the humidity levels would lower below 60%. This is important because soybeans absorb the moisture easily and you can't dry them down for storage like you can corn without causing them to split and be worth a lot less than whole soybeans. When soybeans split, they dry up and lose their oils that make them valuable. This meant that we couldn't get going until eleven or noon most days with harvest. We were still very busy doing other things all morning but due to the slow start, we felt that when the humidity was low enough to harvest, we had to go all out for as long as we could. This meant long hours and working sometimes until the early hours of the morning.

Another big difference is that my Dad hired the soybeans to be custom harvested. We still ran our combine but there were two other combines going as well and I had to catch the soybeans from all three of them so that they never had to stop. It was such long hours and work with such intensity, especially at night when you had to have a photographic memory of what wagon/combine/ditch/fence row was where, I often spent my few sleeping hours racked with dreams about running the catch wagon. Many times the dreams were so intense that I would wake up and it would take me several minutes to convince myself that I was home in bed and not running behind and spilling soybeans everywhere.

Eagles nest high in the tree overlooking the soybean field and nearby pond
 As you can expect, with three combines going at once, we covered a lot of ground often times harvesting 200 acres a day. One day we did a record of 280 acres but one day when two of the three combines were broken down for much of the day, we only got 120 acres done. Still, unlike corn which took us nearly four weeks to harvest, soybeans took just a week, a 108 hour work week. When we wrapped up soybeans and started in on the last 140 acres of corn, it felt darn right relaxing.

We ran out of grain bins before we ran out of fields and had to continually ship grain to local elevators where we pay to store it there until it is sold. Even in the end, with other farmers in the same situation, the semis were all tied up and we couldn't get anything hauled. We had to just sell everything in our wagons that wouldn't fit in the bins so that we could have enough freed up to finish the last 20 acres of corn, which still sits in wagons for the time being. I'm guessing we will end up hauling it to town ourselves to store it if a semi doesn't become available in the next few days.

Soybean stubble


Kelly said...


Love all the photos, especially the middle one. My BIL told us he'd made a trip back to look at one of the farms we'd sold in recent years and that the new owners had cut down every tree on the place! Kind of made me sad.

Ed said...

Kelly - My parents have bought a lot of farms over the years and they always try to be respectful to the previous owners. Most of the time, they have always asked if it would offend them if they did xyz to the farm for a few years after the initial purchase to kind of salve the wounds.

I've never sold a farm but I have sold a house before. My wife likes driving by it but I don't. I like to remember it how it was when I live there and not see what someone else has done to it. If I were to ever sell a farm, I think I would continue on that aspect.