The hot and humid days have been replaced with brisk mornings and crisp evenings, perfect hoodie weather. Pumpkin flavored everything, flannel and apples suddenly appear on top of everybody’s seasonal wish list. The shorter days due to the change of season signals the corn stalk to turn brown and the trees and soybean plants to lose their leaves. For us, this means it is time to Harvest our crops.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “harvest” as the act or process of gathering in a crop. On our farm, we harvest two major agriculture commodities in the fall: corn and soybeans. In the spring, we planted the seeds and hoped they would grow. We actively monitored their progress and protected the plants from bugs, weeds and disease. Now, it is time for us to Harvest a bountiful crop (hopefully) and close the chapter on another successful growing season.
You may find yourself driving down the Interstate or you live in a rural community and see an unfamiliar piece of equipment. On our farm, there are numerous pieces of equipment which aide us with harvest, here is a brief summary of each:
Combine – the combine is probably the most important piece of equipment during Harvest. We drive the combine through the field and it will cut, thresh, and clean the grains. The grain is collected in a tank inside the combine and is periodically emptied into an auger cart or wagons. The chaff (the seed coverings and other debris separated from the seed in threshing) is expelled out the back of the combine and falls back down onto the field.
Combine Head – this is a removable piece of equipment which attaches to the front of the combine depending on what type of crop you are harvesting.
- Corn Head – takes the entire corn stalk and removes the ear from the stalk so only the corn ear enters the combine and processes the stalk. On our farm, we are able to combine 8 rows of corn with each pass through the field.
- Grain Platform – we use a 35-foot-wide platform to harvest our soybeans, wheat or oats. The platform is responsible for cutting the stem and pulling the entire plant into the combine.
Auger Cart – After the combine gets full of grain, the grain is unloaded into the auger cart which is being pulled by a tractor. We typically load the auger cart while we are still combining to increase efficiency. The auger cart holds 850 bushels of grain and also has large tires which helps prevent soil compaction.
Tractor and Wagons or Semi – The harvested grain is moved from the auger cart into a wagon where it is then transported to a grain bin on our farm or to a local grain storage facility. Occasionally, we will hire a neighbor to transport our grain via semi.
Grain Bins or Elevator – After the grain leaves the field, it is transported to a grain bin on the farm or to a grain storage facility where it will be stored until we sell it.
This is just a very broad listing of the equipment you may see on our farm during Harvest. All of this equipment is large, heavy and goes much slower than your vehicle. All vehicles need to be aware and alert so everyone gets home safely to kiss their loved ones goodnight.
In Illinois, weather is incredible unpredictable. It seems, the window to harvest our corn and soybean crop is limited and therefore requires us to put in long hours. Sometimes stress and long hours can make you act… like a jerk. Here are 7 helpful tips from Food & Swine if you find yourself in this position. In addition to Harvest, we are also taking care of our dairy cattle. Most days, we are up long before the sun comes up and finally hit the pillow long after the sunset. It can be extremely hard on all members of the household, especially the kids. If you know someone missing a loved one during their busy season, check out these tips from Abby Jacobs.
Fall is when nature turns to gold and harvest will be over just as fast as it arrived. My family has been given the amazing opportunity to cultivate the soil for over 150 years and I hope one day, my children and nephews will have the same opportunity. Cheers to a safe a bountiful Harvest!