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Having a home--away from home

Tuesday, June 23


WHEAT SAMPLE--When harvesters bring loads to local elevators, an employee of the co-op takes a sample of the wheat grain to measure for grain quality. Grain elevators use a mechanical arm to retrieve the sample. (Journal photo by Jada Bulgin.)

After traveling to many of our stops for many years, my family feels right at home when we return each summer for harvest. One of our favorite homes away from home is Kiowa, Kan., also known as "Combine City." The town was known by this name because there were two huge, high volume dealerships, a Massey Ferguson and John Deere dealer, which sold several combines. Today, they are no longer here but the town remains home away from home to several harvesters. This year, there were at least 15 harvesters in town.

As we headed north, we found out that freeze and drought had affected the crop from the Kansas/Oklahoma border down through Texas. As a result, the wheat was thin. If it did not look like a poor crop, looks were deceiving. The wheat crop yielded from 5 to 20 bushels per acre in the Olney, Texas, area.

The Kiowa, Kan., crop was definite proof of the difference in crop from the Kansas/Oklahoma border. Burlington, Okla., which is just south of Kiowa, ranged from 20 to 30 bushels per acre and Hazelton, Kan., located just north of Kiowa, ranged from 40 to 60 bushels per acre.

Farmers in the Kiowa area are noticing a difference with crop rotation. There are several fields planted with canola, corn and other crops to help rid the land of three main problem weeds: wild oats, joint grass and rye.

Monty Williams, a custom sprayer in the area, said his customers noticed an eight bushel increase in their wheat crop after a year rotation away from wheat. In addition, 80 percent of his customers are using the no-till technique.

We left Kiowa, Kan., this morning and are now in Pratt, Kan. The Kiowa, Kan., crop harvest usually moves fast. That is why we are able to move 50 miles away and still be in time to cut both places. The move ran smoothly and was only halted by some road construction on Highway 281.

We would have been moved to Pratt, Kan., yesterday, but rain in both Kiowa and Pratt halted harvest for a day. Yesterday, we finished harvesting for the Spicers and cut some wheat for Bud Alright. He is a former harvester who made his way from Vernon to Cardson, Alberta in Canada.

Thursday, June 25

Yesterday, we wrapped up harvest in Sawyer, Kan. In the morning, the wheat was too wet to cut. While we waited for the wheat to get dry enough to cut, I took a ride to the Sawyer, Kan. elevator. I feel better in the rider's seat and have not received my CDL for many reasons. The first reason is I get lost very easy and have no sense of direction. Getting lost means I would be forced to turn around in some unknown territory--you think I would have inherited one of my parent's strong sense of direction. Another reason I refrain from driving the trucks is because I do not have very good depth perception. Since some of the elevators are a tight fit for our trucks, I think it would be best to leave the driving to one of our better truck drivers. I have also witnessed many errors that can happen if you turn too short or get lost with a load of wheat. Need I say more? So, when my dad says, "Jada, why don't you just jump in that truck and drive down the road." I can say, "Dad, I don't have my CDL." Let's leave this secret of mine between us and don't tell my dad.

Jada Bulgin can be reached at jada@allaboardharvest.com.



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