Down Time Part of Wheat Harvest; Still Frustrating

Kansas Viewpoint

Sumner County farmer says combine breakdowns have filled start of wheat harvest with frustration

Published on: May 30, 2012
Jim Stuhlsatz grew up farming with his father and he's been on his own for 44 years. That makes him no stranger to the challenges of harvest, but it doesn't make the frustration of down time any easier.

Down Time Part of Wheat Harvest; Still Frustrating

"When it's time to go, I like to get right after it and keep going," he said. "Last year, I'll bet we didn't have 20 minutes of down time the whole harvest. This year, in just four days we've had probably 10 hours."

Most of the lost time, he said, has been on one part of the combine, the wobble box, that has been replaced three times so far.

"We just keep replacing it and having the new one go bad too," he said. "It's the way it goes sometimes."

On Memorial Day, Sthulsatz was harvesting with his sons Dan and Dave and a nephew, Mike Knee, along with Dan's son, Cody and daughter, Tristan.

"I worked out here every summer during high school," Knee said. "And after I graduated from college, I moved to town and got a job at Wichita State. But every year, I take vacation time and come out here to harvest. I love it."

Down Time Part of Wheat Harvest; Still Frustrating

Stuhlsatz said this is the earliest wheat harvest he can remember.

"We've started in early June," he said. "But five days  before Memorial Day? Never."

Stuhlsatz says his farm ground is scattered over a wide area of Sumner County. He owns some land on his own and rents more. And he farms for his parents, two sisters, his aunts, cousins and other relatives.

Harvest is a family effort, plus some. He has custom harvesting crews working fields as well.

There hasn't been time to compile much data on yields, he said, but he does know that at least one field averaged 56 bushels to the acre with 62 pound test weight.

"We've got some pretty good wheat this year," he says. "Better than last year. It worries me, though, how the weather is setting up to repeat last summer's heat and drought."