SHELBY, Mont. – As the leaves turn from green to golden yellow and another very busy summer slips away, harvest 2019 is at an end at Welker Farms.
Bob Welker and his two sons, Nick and Scott, who farm together in north central Montana, can hopefully relax a bit – before cleaning the combines and storing them.
“Wow, the summer went fast. We finished harvesting the last of the spring wheat on Sept. 5,” Bob said. “ Most yields were better than we expected, but it helps to not be too over positive on the numbers.”
Rain is always the determining factor, and the farm received 1.4 inches in June and .45 inches in July.
Bob keeps meticulous precipitation records on the farm going back a very long time, so he knows exactly how much moisture the farm fields receive.
While rainfall was lower than normal this growing season, the Welkers are no-till farmers who diversify their wheat rotations with pulse crops. Those soil health practices improve water infiltration so moisture stays in the soil and help keep yields intact in years like this one.
While the Welkers usually seed winter wheat in September, Bob said they haven’t decided yet if they will plant it this year.
“We received mostly light showers in August, 0.96 inches, and so far in September, 0.34 inches. So, winter wheat seeding this fall is tenuous,” he said.
After the Welkers returned from the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill. (Aug. 27-29), they jumped right back in the combines to finish cutting wheat.
Scott and Bob operated the farm’s Case IH 8230 combines in the same field and Nick drove the Case IH Quadtrac 580 tractor pulling the Unverferth 1620 grain cart to dump on the go for the combine operators.
Nick drove the tractor to the field, noting the wide swath of land the combine header had left. Golden spring wheat waved in the slight breeze on both sides of the swath.
“I can’t imagine what my Grandpa would think right now,” Nick said about all the technology farmers have today that can harvest a lot of grain at once. “It has been an exciting year for us. This land is beautiful and it (harvest) has been fun.”
At the end of the evening, the guys, while still in the fields, noted the beautiful ‘Big Sky’ orange-rose gold sunset, one of the perks of farming in Montana.
After harvest, Scott and their farm helper, Brad, hooked up the Big Bud tractor to a tool to lightly incorporate manure on the fields, to prepare the fields for seeding.
Later, Scott and Brad hauled some wheat to the elevator in town in the renovated 1986 International 9370 Eagle, perhaps for the last time this year.
As Scott drove the truck over the elevator’s work floor, the grain emptied into the pit below.
“This is a pretty neat system,” Scott said, pointing to the work floor. Scott was pleased that the grain sample of the elevator showed a good test weight.
“We had 63 pounds test weight, and it is just amazing,” Scott said. “It is only by the Grace of God that He has given us what He has, and we’re grateful.”
For more, see the Welker Farms YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/WelkerFarmsInc.