Harvest is Over

Posted in Farming on Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Harvest is Over

I finished my harvest August 11th, this year, the earliest ever for me. It started July 15, also my earliest ever, and every day on my daily calendar between those dates is filled with “start this field, finish that field/crop, move equipment here, get parts there.” 

The day after harvest ended, my calendar says, “Nothing.”  Actually, I read a book that day, and it wasn’t about combines or farming.  The next day, I finished the book and spent half the day dealing with the most urgent items in the pile of bookwork that had accumulated on my desk over the last month.   

The combine is cleaned off and put away. The trucks are cleaned out, and the service truck is back to normal.  Harvest is over.  It is so “over” that I have even cleaned the chaff (dry bits of the wheat plant) out of my wallet.  I actually remembered to do so this year instead of pulling out a credit card at the first post-harvest-restaurant and spilling dust and chaff all over the table.  People look at you funny when you blow the dust off your cash before you hand it to them. 

The old timers all say they only finished harvest earlier one time, and that was in the mid 1970’s. That harvest produced the kind of disastrous results we don’t tend to forget.  This year’s winter wheat crop wasn’t quite as bad, down 20 to 25% instead of 50% or more in 1977. 

Though we really don’t know about the garbanzo crop this year, because most haven’t been harvested yet, the other legumes, dry peas and lentils, were poor to terrible.  My peas were about half the normal yield, and the quality was not very good.  (I chose not to plant any lentils or garbs.)  For reasons unknown, however, the Spring barley around Palouse was good – better than average for me.  Even with good yields, barley is still a low margin enterprise, but it is a huge relief to know that malt barley for beer and Palouse pearled barley won’t be in short supply.

Pea harvest ended first, and soil samples were pulled from those fields shortly after.  Based on fertility analysis of those samples, I selected fertilizer rates and will start applying fertilizer next week.  I have ordered winter wheat seed for September.  One harvest over, another season begins.