Hoffman Harvesting crew making best of slow harvest

The Hoffman Harvesting crew

DIGHTON, Kan. — Wheat harvest continues to be a slow struggle against the rain. Hoffman Harvesting has moved 200 miles from their starting point of Kiowa to Dighton, Kan., and will be making another two-hour move soon, if they can ever get back in the fields.

“We are not getting stuff done, because it keeps raining,” said Jada Bulgin of Hoffman Harvesting, during a phone interview on July 8. “It rained yesterday and now it rained this morning, so we’re kind of sitting ducks at the moment, but prior to that we were cutting some really good wheat and getting a lot of stuff done.”

The southern region of the United States has been experiencing heavy rains all spring. The excess moisture is really making for a good wheat crop and exceptional yields.

“It’s yielding above average,” said Jada. “The rain definitely helped the crops. Some of the yields in the fields have been up to 80-100 bushels.”

The wheat quality is also still very good. Mold does not yet seem to be a problem as many thought it might with the high moisture.

The challenge now is just getting the crop out of the field.

“During the first rainstorm we received about two inches, and then with these other ones it just rains for a little bit – kind of sprinkles,” she said.

It rains just enough to keep the ground too wet to work in.

The Hoffman crew has been lucky enough not to get equipment stuck in any of the fields this season. They want to keep that streak going, so they are keeping a close watch on those soil conditions.

Of course, this rain is not affecting all the custom combine crews in Kansas. One does not need to drive too far from where the Hoffmans are located to find combines cutting away.

“We have friends about 20 miles away and they haven’t received any of the rain we have. They’ve been cutting through and we’re sitting ducks,” she said. “But that’s just something as a harvester you get used to seeing.”

The rain break does give the crew a chance to play tourist in the local town of Garden City. Instead of seeing the area only from a combine cab, they have had the chance to take a little time to explore.

They also took some time for a large cookout at their campground – a good chance to relax and hang out while not working and get to know each other. All-in-all, it was a good activity for the crew, even if the campgrounds are a bit wet.

“One thing that’s an issue is this campground is really low ground, so a lot of people are nervous that the campers are going to need tractors,” said Jada.

Since work is nearly done at the current stop, the plan is to start moving some of their equipment and campers to the next stop about two hours away. They will split the crew and equipment between the two locations until work is finished up in Dighton.

“That’s nice because then both farmers are happy, because we have combines there and we are ready to help them out when they’re ready,” she said.

Even if they cannot get into the fields, it gives the farmer and their customer some peace of mind seeing the combines there.

It is also more efficient use of the Hoffman’s resources. It will not take the whole crew and all the equipment to finish the current location. With part of the crew ready to go at the next stop, as soon as there is a dry enough window, everyone can be working and harvesting as much as possible before that window closes.

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