SHELBY, Mont. – Hi-Line durum farmer, Klayton Lohr, has been hard at work behind the wheel of either a grain cart or a combine since about Aug. 5. By Aug. 31, Klayton’s voice sounded weary as the long hot days had been taking their toll. On the plus side however, the end was nearing for the young dryland producer.
“We’ve got about 400 acres of my own stuff left to cut. We got a nice rain yesterday, about two-tenths of an inch, so we are at a halt today. We hope to get going tomorrow,” Klayton said during a phone interview on the last day of August.
The rain may have offered Klayton a day off from the field, but it did not afford him a break from the other duties in life. Klayton’s dad had the day off from his job with CHS, as well, so the duo was spending their time running errands in Great Falls and Havre.
“There is always something going on,” Klayton chuckled.
Klayton’s mother owns and operates a coffee shop in Shelby. In addition to running farm errands and picking up boat parts for Klayton’s dad, the father-son team also had to make a run to Sam’s Club in Great Falls and pick up milk and half and half for the coffee shop.
Klayton admits, other shoppers have a tendency to give him funny looks as he is checking out with a cart full of milk jugs and boxes of half and half. He of course uses his humor and enjoys explaining to passers-by that his milk cows back home are simply on strike.
Back on the farm, harvest has gone on relatively uneventful. Klayton says just in general his poor combine is wearing out, but it keeps limping along. Klayton was thankful to report that no major breakdowns have occurred.
His 2020 durum crop is far exceeding yield expectations this year. Klayton fertilizes for an average of about 14 percent protein and 35 bushels, but this year yields are way up, like 20-25 bushels over the average. As a result, he is concerned protein may be a little lower than he anticipated.
“Most of it shouldn’t be too bad. I’ll know for sure when I get it all tested in the end,” Klayton noted.
Overall, Klayton estimates harvest will only last a few more days once he gets going again. Of course, still left to harvest is the infamous “million dollar field.”
Klayton’s “million dollar field” is the one that burned last summer and then sustained even further damage when high winds blew most of the topsoil away. It is has been a testament to Klayton’s will to farm as he has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this chunk of land, hoping to make it productive once again.
After spreading loads of manure across it, the “million dollar field” took to seed fairly well and Klayton has been pleasantly surprised. Parts of the field are still green, so Klayton presumes it will be best for him to just swath the wheat first, then come back over it with a pick-up header on his combine.
“The real interesting thing will be to see what the manure did fertilizer wise in terms of protein and yield,” Klayton said.
After wrapping up his own harvest, Klayton will push on and hopes to cut some more wheat for a neighbor. The end of Klayton’s 2020 harvest run is near, but maybe not quite in sight yet.