|It was too wet yesterday to harvest wheat, but the kernels are separating from the chaff this afternoon. The kernels are cracking when I bite them. I think it’s time to cut wheat! (There’s a 70 percent chance of rain tonight, so we need to get our field harvested.)|
|Well, we finally got started. This is a New Holland combine. The header and the reel are in the front. There’s a sickle that cuts the stems and the reel, as it turns, pulls the heads into the header. You can see how high the wheat is being cut by looking at the straw.|
|From the side, you can get a sense of how big this combine
is. The header is 20 feet wide, so with each pass through the field there’s
a pretty wide swath being cut. The grain hopper or bin holds about 180
bushels (a bushel of wheat weighs 60 pounds). That’s more than 10,000
If you would like to see a harvest scene from more than 100 years ago, click here.
|From the rear, you can see that harvesting wheat is a dusty job. As the wheat goes through the combine, the grain is separated from the chaff. The material that is being thrown out the back of the combine is the stems and head parts. This combine has a straw spreader attached to the back that spreads the straw over an area about the width of the header. If you want to look inside a combine, click here.|
|Here’s our field after harvest. Now, you can see those first red flags we placed in the field to show our area. The wheat stubble is about 12 inches high. You are probably wondering how much grain our field produced, aren’t you? Well, our seed production field of Jagger produced 40 bushels per acre (an acre is 43,560 square feet). That’s not too bad considering the year that we’ve had, the Barley Yellow Dwarf, and we used a very low seeding rate. But just between you and me, I’m a little disappointed.|
|Here’s a closeup of our row. Most farmers will leave this
residue until they are ready to plant the next crop. A few farmers (not
many) bale the straw and use the baled straw for livestock bedding or sell
it to other people to use for bedding. This removes most of the straw from
the field leaving the soil exposed to wind and water erosion. Most farmers
like to see their fields covered with residue to minimize erosion.
Well, after more than 250 days since planting (October 7th) it’s time to say "goodbye" to our wheat field. But the story doesn’t end here. Where does the wheat go after a field has been harvested? You’ll have to tune in next time to see!