Recent rains have hampered fall harvest but it is still part of the circle of life on family farms in Kansas.

Many people look forward to fall for sweater weather, pumpkin spice season, and football. However, the fall season on the farm signals harvest for the spring planted crops. The corn, grain sorghum, sunflowers and soybeans that were planted in May and June are now ready for harvest. Farmers have tended to their crops all summer long. This includes applying fertilizer, scouting for disease and insects, marketing, and watering the irrigated crops. Farmers spend many hours tending to the crops, all in hopes of having a bountiful harvest. The money the farmer will receive for harvested crops more than likely is already spent on expenses incurred for the crop or to pay for inputs for the crop that will be planted for the next year.

Harvest time on the farm is a family affair. Everyone pitches in to make sure the crop is harvested in a timely fashion. Everyone on the harvest crew is important to the operation. The combine is the machine used to harvest corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, and sunflowers. The combine is a versatile machine. The name is derived from its combining three separate harvesting operations (reaping, threshing, and winnowing) into a single efficient process. A tractor and grain cart can increase efficiency because the grain cart enables the combine to keep harvesting almost non-stop. The benefit of the grain cart is the ability to unload the grain from the combine’s grain bin into the grain cart while the combine continues to harvest. The person driving the tractor pulling the grain cart carefully pulls up next to the combine and drives the same speed as the combine. Once the speed is matched, the combine driver pushes a button to begin unloading the grain. They both continue to drive and in about two minutes the combine grain bin is empty. The grain cart operator pulls away from the combine and the combine continues to harvest the grain until the grain bin is full. After a few loads the grain cart operator drives to the end of the field and unloads into grain trailer.

Efficiently running the tractor and grain cart takes skill and is a fast-paced job. The cart operator is always doing something – getting grain, driving to and from the truck, or unloading grain. The operator needs to be able to think ahead and anticipate when and where they need to be. When heading across the field, they should drive to where the combine will be, not where it is now. Their goal is to keep the combine running non-stop.

The semi that is attached to grain trailer then hauls the grain. There are several different options to haul the grain to. The grain can be stored in grain bins on the farm, taken to the local elevator, to the feed yard, or to the ethanol plant. Often times farmers have already contracted the grain before harvest time. Where the grain is contracted to determines where it is hauled to.