A-team

Harvesting in the middle of the Bakken oil formation means pump jacks are a common sight.

A-Team Harvesting 2, LLC, is right in the thick of harvesting in Tioga, N.D., the final stop on their spring harvest run. Owner/operator, Justin Ashmore, reported during a phone call on Aug. 28, that the crew had wrapped up cutting lentils and were now into durum and spring wheat.

Conditions this harvest season are markedly different from those the A-Team crew experienced last year. In fact, things have been mostly hot and dry. A small rainstorm swept through the area around Aug. 27 and the moisture was enough to postpone operations for a few days, but up until then Mother Nature had really been cooperating.  

“Up until this rain, we’ve had really good running weather. It’s just been ideal harvest weather,” Justin said.

Justin went on to say the crew is just getting into the early-planted durum and spring wheat. So far, the crops have been average to just slightly above average. The rain actually came at a rather convenient time because the A-Team crew was basically all caught up on mature wheat. Crops are planted in stages around Tioga and some of the later-planted durum and spring wheat wasn’t quite mature as of the end of August.

Justin said, overall, he and his crew really enjoy their time harvesting in Tioga. Not only is it the final stop on their run, indicating the end may actually be in sight, but the town itself has several conveniences, including some nice parts stores.

At first glance, Tioga would appear like any other rural farming community. However, this little North Dakota town is right in the heart of the Bakken oil formation. The hustle and bustle of the oil fields does have its perks, but it also presents a unique set of challenges for a custom harvesting crew.

“My guys have to be really aware of traffic out here. You’d think it’s really rural, but there is a lot of oil field traffic on the road that can come out of nowhere,” Justin pointed out.

Another aspect of harvesting in Tioga is the fact that most all of the grain harvested is stored in bins on the actual farm. When A-Team contracts a job, it is for delivered grain – be that to an elevator or a bin. For the majority of the season, A-Team trucks the grain directly to the elevator, but once in Tioga, it’s a different story.

Justin admits, it can be a bit of a challenge getting used to how different farmers run their augers and/or how specifically they want their grain stored. Additionally, it can be a whole other challenge training the crew members on how to approach these different situations.

“I rely heavily on the guys that have been here before when it comes to things like that,” he said.

Not only is Justin the owner and main combine operator for A-Team Harvesting, which is a time consuming role as is, but he also helps run his family’s farming and cattle operation back home in Logan, Kan. Since harvesting operations were shut down for a few days up in Tioga, Justin and his right-hand-man/ harvesting crew foreman, James Collins, decided to take advantage of the break and make the nine-hour drive back to the ranch in Kansas.

“I’ve got a couple bunches of cattle that have been giving me fits and they need to be moved,” Justin explained.

Justin and James will buzz down to Kansas, grab horses and move the cattle that keep breaking onto a corn field, maybe catch a bit of sleep and then rush back up to Tioga to continue harvesting.

“You just got to do what you got to do,” chuckled Justin about his whirlwind of a trip.

All and all, Justin’s life always seems to be going 100 miles an hour and no one can ever accuse the grass of growing under his feet. Justin has a lot of different duties to juggle and he will be the first to admit, he can’t do it all alone. He is eternally grateful to all the members of A-Team Harvesting 2, LLC, and all the hard work they do to keep things thrashing along.