Custom cutters move on to wheat fields in northwestern Kansas

2013-07-18T10:30:00Z Custom cutters move on to wheat fields in northwestern KansasBy Sue Roesler, Farm & Ranch Guide The Prairie Star
July 18, 2013 10:30 am  • 

ENID, Okla. – Jesper Hansen, foreman for one of the J & H Harvesting crews, expected custom combining in the wheat capital of Oklahoma would take a long time, he just didn’t know it would take as long as it did.

Custom harvesting near Enid is typically one of the longest stops along the harvest trail for J & H Harvesting, based in Scobey, Mont., But this year, it was exceptionally long.

“I will be here for July 4 and that has never happened before,” Jesper reported just before the holiday. At this time last year and previous years, he would have already been cutting in Nebraska or Kansas.

But the farmers in the Enid area are having a late harvest, mostly because of a late start with storms and rain.

“We were fighting the rain early on,” he added.

Most of Jesper’s crew had already left and were combining in Kansas with his brother, Flemming, who is the other foreman for J & H Harvesting.

Jesper is one of the last custom cutters left in the Enid area.

“All the other custom combiners have left, at least around here,” he said, adding he has been in Enid for four weeks. In the fields he has cut, yields are ranging from 42-48 bushels per acre.

The hard red winter wheat (HRWW) is turning out to be a very nice crop for producers, according to Jesper. Everyone he has cut for has HRWW, but some farmers in the region are beginning to put in winter canola to help with weeds, especially cheatgrass and wild rye. The region doesn’t put in much corn because of the heat. The hot weather would affect the crop right when it would be tasseling.

“Farmers here are very pleased with their wheat crop,” Jesper said. “It is better than they expected.”

The National Agricultural Statistics Service is reporting the HRWW harvest in Oklahoma is 84 percent complete, compared to 100 percent last year at this time.

According to the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, yields in the region are averaging 55 bushels per acre with test weights around 58 pounds and protein at 11.8.

Jesper said the weather has been hot, ranging from 91-100 over the last week. Fortunately, it hasn’t been too humid with the humidity at 32 percent. That helps with combining, because crews can’t start cutting until the fields are dry enough to get into.

The summer heat allowed significant progress in the wheat harvest. Jesper and the crew members remaining were finishing up planned to clean the combines and service the equipment on July 4-5, then head up to Kansas on the weekend.

They will be combining near Oakley, Kan., in the northwestern region, where other J & H crews have been for the past 10 days. Jesper’s crew has two combines with them, and the rest will be waiting for them in Oakley.

In Kansas, his crew is reporting better than expected wheat yields in some areas, but other areas have suffered from very dry conditions.

“They are saying yields of between five to 30 bushels per acre depending on the location,” Jesper said. “All of western Kansas was dry. It was the same thing near Perryton,Texas. I usually cut down there, and this is the first time I haven’t. The drought really affected the farms, and there was nothing to cut there.”

Jesper is hearing the crop back in Scobey, Mont., is coming along nicely. After cutting in Oakley, they will head to Haxtun, Colo., and Chappell, Neb.

(For those looking for a custom harvester along the J & H harvest trail, call Flemming at 406-939-3766; Jesper at 406-939-7911; or Mark at 406-939-7444 or email at m_j_ent@yahoo.com)

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