Preparing for a Better Wheat HarvestBy Natalia Kome
June 27, 2019
It is critical to prepare your farmland to provide a better wheat harvest. Here is how:
Preparing for a Better Wheat Harvest
Summertime means it's time to harvest the wheat you planted in the fall. Harvesting wheat isn't a cut and dry process, there's actually a science to it. Here are a few tips, and some advice from a wheat harvest professional, to help you get the highest yield from a crop that is a main ingredient in many foods all over the world.
"I was raised as a custom harvester and operated machinery that cut and hauled wheat from Texas to North Dakota every year," said Shawn Terrel, president of United Country Auction Services. "My father was a custom wheat harvester for 43 years and it was our family business. The equipment used for harvesting is not only very large, it is very costly to own and operate. Over the years, the equipment costs have grown dramatically as engineering and technology have played a major role in the development of the harvesters (combines) used in today's farming operations."
Know Your Land
Knowing when to harvest isn't a guessing game. Now that you've prepared your soil, fertilized, planted, watered and tended to your wheat crop all year to watch it grow, it's important to know when to harvest. Wheat should be monitored regularly to check its progress and that means getting out into the field.
Checking Moisture Levels
Moisture in the kernel or berry is the primary way farmers decide if wheat is ready to harvest. If you don't already have one, you can get a moisture tester/reader at most farm stores. Some articles state that an ideal wheat moisture content at harvest is between 18% to 20%, however this is not an appropriate moisture level for (storing) wheat. Once wheat is harvested at these higher moisture content levels, it must be artificially dried during entry into a storage facility. Harvesting wheat for storage is generally cut and hauled to an elevator when the moisture content reaches 13.5%. Wheat that is harvested in this range is ready to be stored for longer periods of time.
Prepare Your Equipment
There are three primary pieces of equipment that harvest wheat (combine w/header; grain truck; service truck). All three pieces of equipment require maintenance however the harvester (Combine) requires a significant amount of maintenance and daily inspection to ensure all of its many working components are ready for a hard day's work. The climate is typically very hot during wheat harvest, so the machines work under an extreme amount of heat and pressure throughout the workday. Having a regimented maintenance and inspection process will help ensure your harvesting equipment is running in top order. The primary elements of servicing the equipment are lubrication (grease), fuel, water and engine oil. This is a mandatory part of the daily maintenance routine to helping ensure a productive day of harvesting.
Use the Right Storage
Typically, farmers utilize one of two primary storage facilities to deliver their harvested crop. They either have grain bins onsite at their farm headquarters or nearby area, or they will haul their wheat to an area grain elevator and storage facility. Grain bins and elevators require close monitoring of the grain moisture content to keep from spoiling the entire contents in the grain bin. They also require the use of a pesticide since most loads of wheat will contain various insects that can cause damage to stored wheat. Wheat can be aeriated with perforated tubes in the bin or the use of an aeriated floor. Many grain bins will also have a fan system used to force air through the grain and control high levels of moisture which can spoil the grain. It is not uncommon for grain bins used onsite at farming operations to have the bins elevated on a stand with a cone. Companies like Hoppercone make grain handling and moving a breeze and grain bin cones also add additional storage capacity.
Taking proper precautions and being well-prepared this harvest season should help ensure higher yields, smoother harvesting operations and better-quality wheat held in storage. Do you have more tips for a better harvest? Let us know! Share your ideas with us by following us on our Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
United Country Real Estate has been a leader in farm land sales since 1925. To learn more, visit www.UnitedCountry.com.