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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Harvest?

Just wondered if any of you folks get a chacne to watch this show on TV.  I saw a blurb for it, and have the DVR taking it down evry week, so Mike can enjoy it.  It's very interesting, and awesome to see really big combines that we'd never see in the irregular fields here in our area. 

 

One thing that seesm to irritate him as he watches, though, is what looks like such over-dramatization and just plain stupid setups at that.  Last night, when one of a group of combines bent a cutter, no one bothereed to even look at the  problem closely, until a mechanic arirved FIVE HOURS LATER.  At this point they beat out the bent part, adn started to roll again.  DUH!

 

Meanwhile, the show represented that all the other machines stood still, too.  Maybe we missed something in the setup of th show originally,.but in our little world, if you have three combiens and one is sitting still, the other two are running overtime, to make up for it.  It looks like whenever anyone on a harvest crew has an issue, everyone else has to stop and watch while they resolve it.  RUH?!?!?

 

There is a constant narration, which runs along the lines of, "If the crew doesn't finish the whole 300-acre field today, they lose the entire paycheck of $54,000." 

 

First of all, what do these custom guys charge per acre for their work?  This show makes it sound as though they are pocketing almost $200 per acre for their time.  I know that a lot of stuff gets oversimplified for TV, but there is none of this scale and scope of farming around here, for us to judge by.  Big cotton pickers, boll buggies, etc., and plenty of hog farms, yes; but, no huge grain operators, unless you go to the edge of the ocean,  and visit the low ground...biggest farm east of the MS River is out there. 

 

Also, we did some custom cutting a long time ago...and as much as you tried to complete everything as timely as possible, no one would have been able to refuse paying you for what you did get done, just because you might not have been able to do it all by dark on the fifth of November.    If that was the case, every farmer would have to pray the crew breaks down on the last acre.....

 

How do these custom harvesting contracts really work these days, in the big fields of the square states?  TIA for the real scoop....

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13 Replies
nwobcw
Advisor

Re: Harvest?

  I saw an episode a couple weeks ago and also thought the narrations were over the top.   I also was surprised at how bad the wheat crop was.  Some of it didn't look worth combining.  In my area a crop like that would be killed off and no tilled with corn or beans.   One thing I've always wondered is why don't the farmers have their own combines?

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Harvest?

Sort of wondered why anyone would hire this much custom work, too, but some farmers start up or wind down their carers this ways, from what I have read here. We haven't raised row crops in ages, but I agree that a lot of what we saw looked unworthy of the effort , too...maybe they had to harvest to document for an insurance claim? Don't know how that works, either.



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wt510151
Senior Contributor

Re: Harvest?

It costs us between 25-30 dollars per acre for custom harvest plus trucking. We simply do not have the acres to afford a big combine. Who wants to pay $400,000+ for a machine used only 4-6 weeks of the year? Takes a lot of acres to pay something like that off.

Maybe the landowners are absentee and want to reap the rewards of the last few years' grain markets? Don't want to deal with employees so harvest crews are hired instead. Less headaches than dealing with W-2,3, and 4 forms for part-time help.

I don't understand why other combines are stopped for one broke down either. The only thing I can think of is that they may have a cutting pattern to follow for safety.

Is the name of the show "Harvest?" What channel would it be on? May check it out on the internet.

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Harvest?

I saw that one.  It was so over the top I didn't bother catching another one.

Granted, it was sort of based in actual happenings, but the DRAMA involved reminded me of my 5 year old girl.

The Combine broke down!  Oh, if we don't get it fixed, we won't get paid, and the children will starve (OK, maybe not quite THAT over the top, but not far from it).

I remember wondering, where they found those combine operators, who had no knowledge of how to fix anything?  Especially to the point where everyone else had to stop, to watch while the operator waits for the mechanic.  Kind of reminds me of the road crew.  One guy stops to 'water the grass' and everyone else stands around until he comes back.

On the other hand, if they DIDN'T add any drama, it would be pretty dry programming. 
The combine goes 'round the field, it unloads grain, and goes 'round again, and again, etc, etc.

I guess at least I should be happy that they are doing something that shows what us farmers are up against.

 

As for the custom harvestors, that is actually pretty common with wheat growers.  The wheat ripens across much of the wheat belt, like a stadium full of fans doing the 'wave'.  The harvesting begins in Texas/Oklahoma, and winds up going around West of us.  I don't know how far North they end up.  It works out well for the smaller farmers who can't justify a modern combine on their acres.  They get harvest done in a day or two, instead of a week or two, and have less risk of their wheat going down.  They also don't need trucks, grain carts, etc.

I don't think we'll ever see anything like that for corn, as corn harvest happens across most of the country at pretty much the same time.

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BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: Harvest?

It`s on the History Channel, I`d never heard of it `til Kay posted this.  http://www.history.com/shows/harvest/videos/harvest-race-to-redemption#harvest-race-to-redemption   You can watch an episode anyway.  The silage chopper guy makes an embarassing mistake, he gets mad cussing that the header only turns 1/2 way and waits 5 hrs for a repair truck, turns out it was a bent tooth when the shield is removed...that shield should`ve been removed first thing, if not in the 5 hrs the repairman was getting there.  I suppose it`s hyped for tv, but how long has this guy been chopping silage?

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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: Harvest?

   I didn't think of the insurance aspect.  You may have a point there.

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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: Harvest?

   100K will buy a nice used combine.

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Harvest?

Around here, it could get you a very decent house, too.
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clayton58
Veteran Advisor

Re: Harvest?

Here in wheat country it is not just the smaller farmers who hire custom harvesting.  In fact in our area a lot of smaller farmers do there own harvesting.  It is a fgamily affair, the kids all help out, friends and relatives take there vacation time to be able to come back to the farm for harvest.  In our operation, when we started farming, we had neither the acreage, nor the available money to justify investing in a combine, tractors, trucks, etc and did not have access to free (family) laborfor harvest.  In fact I was working at the grain elevator. Over the years our acreage has grown, and by hiring custom cutters we get late model equipment, new technology,and the trainrd operators for it, without having several hundred K tied up for the rest of the year.  the crop gets cut in a week or less, so way less exposure to rain, hail, etc.  As to harvesting poor crops, you need to understand that moisture is a limiting factor, and if the wheat is poor, ther is usually not going to be enough moisture to kill it and grow a different crop in that field that year.  The economics are really pretty simple pertaining to insurance.  If the field appraises at say 5 bushel per acre, and the price is $6.00, that is $30/acre that ins will not pay, so if it costs $25/acre to have it harvested, your still $5/ acre better to harvest rather than leave it in the field.

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