How to Keep Moving Through a Long Harvest

Different tactics might help you gain time and finish soon.

Published on: Oct 8, 2010
Necessity is the mother of invention. Necessity right now is finishing harvest. Some may already be done, some are still in the later stages. What strategies will help you get done sooner? Here are a few ideas.

Many elevators are full or nearly full of grain. Some can't get train cars fast enough to move grain out to clear space for new grain. Some have even already made their customary outside corn piles. As a result, some are dumping only a limited number of trucks and hour, even though they typically could move many more through the facility at once. Others are calling producers and notifying them that on certain days, or for certain hours, they're closing down because they can't take any more grain.

One farm family found that two semis weren't cutting it. Instead of buying a third, they contract with a local family trucking business to provide the third semi. Especially this fall, it's been a lifesaver when drivers get stuck in long lines. With only their own two semis in action, the combine would be sitting much more often than it has been with that third semi in the mix.

Ownership costs just don't justify a third semi, the farmers say. Some seasons two can handle it, at least on soybeans. This year even on beans they need the third one because the facility where they sell soybeans is one of the elevators struggling to find space to store incoming grain. They're seeing an even bigger payoff in terms of keeping the combine moving from having the extra hauling capacity they contract out for this year.

A second strategy would be to join with a neighbor who's already done to help you finish up. Perhaps you need his combine power, maybe just his trucks or labor. Several arrangements are being worked out in the country, from paying your neighbor to trading tillage work later or some other type of work that he needs done that's easier for you to do than him. The bottom line is to keep your machine moving now.

Here's a third strategy. Some people own two combines. Some bought the second one last year during the late harvest. If you only have a bean head and you're not in one of the areas blessed by big corn yields, perhaps you could rent or borrow a second corn head so you can run tow machines. If not, at least keep the second machine fueled and maintained, ready to turn the key and go, in case the first one breaks down. That way you shouldn't lose any running time. The strategy may work better in corn if you're storing your own, and can keep it away from two combines, rather than if you're sending trucks to the elevator and they wind up waiting in long lines.