Wheat harvest is done! I rode with Big Boss one day and took some pics and vids. Not great ones but they were the best we could get at the time. Everyone is relieved to get the crops in without any more hail and wind damage. The crop in general was good. No records broken but certainly not the worst crop ever. It took about 2 weeks this year what with rain a couple of days. Wheat harvest once required the labor of 16-20 men and went on for weeks and weeks. Now, we have one guy on the combine and two running the grain cart and semi. This year we cut around 1000 acres and averaged 50 bushels per acre…down from last year. And this was also Big Boss’s 52nd year of running a combine. He started when he was 10. Child labor at it’s best!!! LOL! Of course that was back in the day when the combine wasn’t quite a fancy as they are now…open cab, no computer doodads and much smaller. He had to wear goggles and a handkerchief tied around his nose and mouth to keep all of the dirt and crud out!
A while back, I told you everything you needed to know…or close to it…about wheat as a plant. This is the rest of the story.
The way this works is…the wheat stands about waist-high. So the combine’s job is to mow it down. Pretty simple huh? Once I thought of the combine as a really large lawn mower, the concept fell into place!
BB drives the combine to relieve son #3 so he can eat, rest and I have been drafted to drive the grain cart occasionally, but they have to be desperate! My main job is helping them move from field to field and taking a lunch out every once in a while…DiL #3 takes care of that.
So here’s how Big Boss splains it…conventional combines work this way:
Once those little things (the sickles) that go back and forth get the wheat cut, the big, round wheel thing aka the reel, brings the cut wheat in to an auger/draper, where it is directed to the center of the header, which is what all of those things are called when they’re combined into one “thing”. Got it?
(I could’ve hummed and made this a little more interesting. Or not. My videography has room for tons of improvement, but I’m just proud I have enough tech nerdiness to insert it here!!!!! 🙂 )
Next it’s transferred by a chain that pulls it up into the combine where a rotor that runs at 1000 rpms grabs the wheat and spins it around the rotor. Then it’s encased in a series of metal strips called “concaves” so the grain is mashed between the rotor and the concaves.
It was a windy day so that’s the sound track for this vid!
The refuse of the wheat stalk then goes out the back of the combine and the threshed grain (wheat berries) falls down thru the concaves and is carried by a series of augers and dropped on sieves/sifters that kick the chaff (the stalks, hulls and awns/beards) out and the clean grain falls thru the sieve to a plate that shoves the grain to another auger. Then the grain goes up by auger to the grain tank. When the tank gets full, the combine operator shoots the grain into a truck/trailer/grain cart and then hauled to a grain bin for storage.
All of the refuse is then baled and used in winter feed rations as a supplement and also bedding for the cattle when the temps drop. Once the wheat is harvested, the ground is then either used as fallow ground…sprayed for weeds and left idle until 2014..or is planted to corn for a September harvest or sorghum for hay to be a supplement for winter feed also.
Now…is that clear? Good luck. I’m still working on it all. And the thing is…it’ll all change in a another year or two. Then I’m right back where I started. Picking up apricots.
PS This vid was made in Kansas by 3 brothers, one of whom attends K State, the alma mater of 2 of our sons. They went viral this week and their timing was perfect. I had been looking for a wheat harvest vid that was actually good!! Enjoy!!