BOWDLE, S.D. – The weather this season is impacting farmers throughout the Midwest. While many in the north struggle to get planting done, those in the south are watching the winter wheat crop as it nears harvest. The custom combine crews are already starting to feel the pressure and the harvest season has yet to begin.
“As a harvester, you just cross your fingers and hope and pray that the crop doesn't get hailed out,” said Jada Bulgin of Hoffman Harvesting in Bowdle, S.D., during a phone interview on May 28. “This year we’re going to have a little more to do and a little less time to do it with all the weather.”
Hoffman Harvesting was started in 1972 by Perry Hoffman. He was 17 at the time and harvesting with his father. He decided to branch off and start his own business with two 6600 John Deere combines, two trucks and one service truck.
Then, two years later, Perry married his wife, Candice, and she joined the business.
In 2002, Leon Bulgin joined the crew and four years later, he married Jada, Perry and Candice’s daughter, and joined the family. Since 2009, Leon and Jada have been handling the management role of the business for their parents.
“My parents are still part of the business, but Leon and I go with the crew, do all the harvesting and our parents serve as advisors and fill in when we need them,” said Jada. “My dad's actually going to come to Kiowa to help for the first time since 2009.”
Kiowa, Kan., is the starting place for Hoffman Harvesting’s season. The southern Kansas town is located just north the Kansas/Oklahoma border.
“We have been going there since the beginning, so it's kind of like a second home,” she said.
The plan is to head for Kiowa around June 6.
“It's just depends on the weather. You try to be ready and then you get the call from the farmer and he's like, I think it's going to be ready on this date,” she said. “Then you get down there and go.”
Jada explains there is a town not too far from Kiowa, across the border into Oklahoma, called Alva that is really flooded.
Hoffman’s crew consists of 9 employees with two more coming. Perry and another past employee serve as back up from when they need extra hands driving a truck.
The first crop on the list is winter wheat. They will harvest that right up to the South Dakota border, then the crops start to vary more.
“They we'll get into some other crops, like spring wheat,” she said. “When we are in North Dakota, we do a lot of canola.”
They also work with corn, soybeans, sunflower, durum, lentils and have even done some flax – really any crop their combines can harvest.
Today, the harvesting fleet contains five state of the art, four-wheel drive, John Deere combines. They use Kinze grain carts with scales and Kenworth semis for hauling.
All the equipment has been prepped and is ready to roll. Now all the Hoffman’s really need, as well as any other farmer, is some good weather to kick off the season.