Hoffman crew sees good harvest, rain in Olney, Texas
By Jada Bulgin
Monday, June 3
Earlier this week, we received a visit from some folks at John Deere. They were part of the PIP team. PIP stands for Product Improvement Program. The team is traveling around and replacing a part that is supposed to prevent debris from settling on the engine. The efficient team worked on preparing the part by grinding and repainting it and then they placed the part in the combine.
Tuesday, June 4
I cannot leave a beautiful sunset photo out of a post. I just absolutely love them. This is one scene that will never grow old to my eyes…wheat, machines and a setting sun as their backdrop—now if everyone really knew where their bread came from!
Since our arrival, I haven’t felt there was a lot of reporting to be done on crop updates. But once again our farmer, Mike, surprised me. Since our arrival, we have harvested fields that ranged from 10 bushels per acre to 50 bushels per acre, but today we are cutting fields that are averaging at 38 to 42 bushels per acre.
Seeing the drought with my own eyes and knowing several farmers in this area did not have a crop to harvest makes this news amazing. Despite having all the odds stacked against him, our farmer was blessed to have a crop. Recently, Mike has switched to a no-till technique and feels that it has contributed to the success of his crop. Now, if the area could just receive some rain.
Wednesday, June 5
In order to fill up our equipment, we often have a bulk fuel truck come to our field. Today, Rick from Davis and Wardlaw came to fill up our combines and our service truck. His truck holds 2,000 gallons, and upon his arrival our equipment sucked what fuel was remaining in his truck dry.
Rick has been in the fuel business since 1971 and offered us a flashback on how different things are today than in ’71. At that time, diesel was 13 cents per gallon while gas was .25 cents per gallon—with 9 cents of that being tax. Today the tax on gas is 28 cents. He added that propane was five cents per gallon. I filled four normal-sized tanks the other day and was charged $45.
In 1971, the fuel we consumed today would have cost us $197.21. I’d have to say this is quite reasonable considering today it costs almost $100 to fill up my pickup. Rick is based out of Seymour, Texas and offered me one more fun tidbit. Seymour has the national record for the highest temperature—122 degrees. Since we have arrived in Olney, experiencing weather in the triple digits (with a max of 109 degrees) has not been uncommon; however, I cannot imagine what 122 degrees would feel like.
Meeting interesting people like Rick is one of the things I love about harvest. I am happy to work in the agricultural industry because the people involved in this field are generally nice people.
Thursday, June 6
For the harvest season we chose to try out a new header—a 635 flex draper—that would also be good for harvesting soybeans in the fall. The problem we have noticed is they do not tilt as much as the ones we have used the last couple of years—a 635 rigid draper. Now, walking our combines into gates has proven more challenging than ever. Machines and headers keep getting larger but the gates don’t.
We are either lightly kissing the gates with our headers or unhooking them after an unsuccessful attempt of trying to walk them in. The latter option is time consuming and is considered the last resort.
Saturday, June 8
Before our headers hit the field, we were prepared to have a less than fair harvest in Olney, Texas. The first set of fields we cut seemed to solidify our fate—we were happy to hit the double digits. Then it happened…we started harvesting! Our grain cart, which we were almost starting to regret bringing, was parked less and our truckers had to start trucking—not waiting on truckloads.
“Green” crew members who haven’t been on harvest before started getting a taste of the real action that takes place when our hoppers get full with wheat that is yielding well. Fields seeded at a later time are averaging in the 30s to 40s. This is a great crop for this area especially at a time of severe drought—the area is at a level 4.
What we are noticing is crops that were seeded at a later date are yielding better than crop that was in early. Those who got their crop in early either did not have a crop or had a very low yielding crop around 10 bushels per acre. On the Campbell farm, the wheat that was seeded three weeks later than the rest is what is yielding well. Conversations with locals leave us uncertain what is contributing to this as there was no rain or hail—only drought and an early frost which should have affected all the seeded crops. Maybe someone can answer this unsolved mystery. Mystery or not, on this rare occasion, the early bird doesn’t catch the worm.
Sunday, June 9
After many prayers, the Olney, Texas, area was blessed with rain. It rained 2 inches in Olney and 3 inches where we were cutting (near Megargel). The rain gave us a two-day respite, which we took full advantage of.
We were able to go to Wichita Falls to buy supplies and have some fun, get caught up on sleep, visit the campground neighbors and celebrate our annual Campbell cookout. This year we feasted on several dips, jalapeno poppers, salad, grilled ribs and chicken and, last but certainly not least, Julie’s famous peach cobbler with, of course, Blue Bell ice cream. Yum!
The third rain day, the guys headed out to field in the morning to do some much needed maintenance work. They came into town for a while then around 5 p.m. were able to start harvesting. You can tell it rained because the fields were a little muddy! You could also smell the moisture in the air. We also received an inch of rain this morning, which kept us out of the field. While the rain hasn’t necessarily helped with the drought—a double-digit amount would be required to put a dent in the issues it has created—the rain has sure put a smile on everyone’s face.
Jada Bulgin can be reached at email@example.com.