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Monday, July 15, 2013

Wheat Harvest in Kansas

My brother harvested his first wheat crop this summer and finished up right before the 4th of July. It wasn't the first crop on our family's farm, he is now the 4th generation of farmers in the family!

This year was the first year we had our own combine and harvested our own crop. We normally hire what is referred to as a custom grain harvesting crew. They travel from the Southern US to the Northern US following the ripening of the wheat crop to harvest wheat for farmers at a set fee. Farmers call these people, "Custom Cutters." Farmers often hire custom cutters because you don't have to invest in all of the harvest equipment and incur the repair costs that it requires to maintain all of the machinery needed for harvest.

Even though it is still extremely dry in Southwest Kansas, the wheat was better than we had expected. We got a few late freezes in April and May that really set back the wheat and made my dad and brother nervous about the yields.  It was no bumper crop, but it just wasn't as terrible as they had expected.

Want to learn more about harvest? Check out this video from the Peterson Farm Bros!

Want to learn even more about harvest? I thought of some of the vocabulary that we use on the farm and you might find it useful to learn more about these words.

  • Yield: this is a term we use to describe how much of a crop we harvest per acre of the crop planted. We usually talk about yield using bushels and acres. Some other countries use tons per hectares. 
  • Combine: a piece of machinery specifically used for harvesting grain. It operates to reap, thresh and winnow the plants in order to gather just the grain for transport to the nearest grain elevator, barge or train. Crops that are harvested with a combine are wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, soybeans and flax.
  • Bushel: a bushel is a volume measurement used by farmers to describe an amount of grain. It is equal to 1.244 cubic feet or 32 quarts. 
  • Test weight: this is a measure that farmers will use a lot in conversation. It is the measure of the weight of grain in pounds per volume in bushels. Wheat has a standard weight at a specific moisture content and it is 60 pounds per bushel at 13.5% moisture. 
Sometimes we forget that, in agriculture, we have our own lingo. I like to post about that lingo so that you can get a better understanding of what it is we do on a family farm.  Heck, there are even multiple words that all mean "Harvest" and are used with different crops. Many of these terms are regional, but it's interesting to hear people talk about how they all harvest their crops.

Synonyms for Harvest: 
Corn: shell, pick, shuck
Beans: run, cut
Wheat: cut, thresh
Cotton: pick, strip
Silage or Hay: lay down, cut, chop





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  2. Hi Tera, I like your post! Everything is clear and understandable and easy to read, I think you have writing skills. By the way, in our country we say "tons per hectares". And there is another word to your vocabulary - grain moisture meter. We've got ours' from here In 2011 the moisture meter saved our harvest, yep! Thanks for the article, I enjoyed it!



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