The page on the calendar has definitely flipped to fall. I notice it every morning when I go out to do chores. It is a bit chillier each morning. The trees are dropping leaves and changing colors. The grass in the pastures is getting tougher, and the cows are more restless and happier to see me each day.

The season has changed, and that is a good thing. I think the thing I like most about living here in the Midwest is our definite seasons – sometimes all in one day.

Along with fall comes harvest season. Well, I am not in harvest season yet. I am in that weird in-between time I call waiting season.

It appears everyone around me for many miles is going hard at harvest, and my crops are just not ready yet. Waiting season is the hardest time of the year for me. I am all set and ready to go, and my crops tell me, “Not yet, we do this on our time.”

Several things happen during waiting season. The first thing I notice is the time I spend in my pickup driving the roads thinking that the crops will miraculously go from green and not even close one day to ready to harvest the next. I know this before I ever go out the door and yet each day, I make the drive past every field hoping something has changed. I have decided that a watched field is like a watched pot and it will never ripen unless I ignore it for a week or so.

The waiting season is also the time I start high moisture corn harvest. No, I am not like many of you who harvest large volumes of high moisture corn. I like to harvest four or five ears at a time and hand shell them. I used to shell into them into coffee cans but since my coffee does not come in cans anymore, I use ice cream buckets.

I am quite sure that everyone at our local co-op thinks I am brining the harvest in one bucket at a time. On a side note, ice cream buckets work much better to shell into, are easier to carry and much more fun to clean out. You do need to make sure you have an ample supply of grain sample buckets before and during harvest.

There is one part of waiting season that you can take to the bank. The weather will be perfect. No rain, usually the temperature is very comfortable, and the skies are blue. The ground is also very dry, and you can easily drive anywhere, especially places that are chronically muddy.

This adds to the pressure of this waiting period. It is hard to not be harvesting during days like that because you know the monsoon season is coming very soon and will last for a couple of weeks.

There are several positive things about waiting season. You get to talk to your neighbors who are often cruising the roads just like you are looking for dry, harvestable crops. It is a good time to catch up on the local news and gossip. After all, what else do you have to do?

This does not work, of course, when one of your neighbors does have crops dry enough to harvest. In that case, they often are in a rush and seemingly do not have time to shoot the breeze. Harvest season does seem to bring on a certain aloofness in the farmer types.

It is also a good time to get to know the co-op staff, although they can also fall prey to the same anti-social behavior that your neighbors have if grain is coming into the elevator. Harvest time is not conducive to a feeling of community like waiting season is. It is also a time when you can make sure the moisture tester is calibrated properly. I am sure the elevator staff appreciate your expert guidance when you have them test the sample again.

Waiting season is also a great time to catch up on chores around the farm. I am not sure what they are, but I am sure there are jobs that could be done in between drives and sample taking. I guess you could also take care of a few honey-do tasks around the house, but be careful of taking on something that may interfere with a sudden drop in grain moisture and the beginning of harvest. You would not want to leave a honey-do project half done, so it is better not to start them during the waiting season.

It’s hard to tell just how long waiting season will last. It could be a month or it could end tomorrow. That is why it is critical to check every day and to sample often.

The sun is out today and the wind is blowing, so I probably should wrap this up and go check the corn. Waiting season is surely drawing to a close.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at