Harvesting at Vernon, TX

Published on: 11:09AM Jun 10, 2009
Hi everyone, my name is Kent Braathen and I own and operate a custom harvesting business. I partner with another custom harvester, Scott Brown, who is also from Devils Lake, N.D. Together we have five JD 9770 combines, five semi-tractors and hopper bottom trailers and two tractors and carts.

The end of April brings us our employees. We hire nine employees each year; some have been with us in previous years and for some it is their first adventure. My 17-year-old nephew Jordan Braathen is our 10th employee. He has been with me since he was 13 years old, so he knows just how his uncle wants things done!

We started harvesting at Vernon, TX, on May 30th with three combines with 36' draper heads -- due to some of the acres being destroyed, we figured this would be plenty of machines. We have worked six days and have been stalled by rain three times. The wheat here is very poor; 10 bushels per acre will pretty much be the average with test weights running 56 to 61 lb. They were hurt by extreme drought over the winter and frost in the spring, and now too much rain. The wheat looked very poor all across Oklahoma also, maybe more freeze damage than anything. As we move north to the Kansas-Oklahoma border, I expect things will be better, but there is talk of freeze damage there also.

We left one combine at our next stop and Scott is at home picking CORN with the other combine. We started picking last fall, but due to a lot of rain and snow at harvesttime, most of the corn was left in the field. The combine has been set up with tracks and rear wheel assist. He can pretty much go anywhere there are corn rows. One advantage to picking corn now is that the corn is 12% moisture, which is considerably dryer than the 25% to 30% moisture it was in December. They will be picking 400 day corn for most of June!

Hopefully next week we will have the crews all in the same location. We should get wrapped up the end of the week and move north to Kiowa, KS. This will be our 36th year of harvesting at this location.

Happy Harvest, Everyone