Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

Harvesting 6,000ac of wheat on one farm

Jamie Casey reports on the end of the harvest season Stateside

Attention Stateside is turning to fall crops
Attention Stateside is turning to fall crops

As the cereal harvest draws to a close in Ireland, attention Stateside is also turning to fall crops. We recently harvested our final field of wheat, which brought us to a grand total of 15,000ac of wheat this year. Within the last four weeks, the focus has shifted onto harvesting canola and soybeans.

One of our stops along the way takes us up into Canada, to harvest wheat and canola in the centre of Saskatchewan.

This job was on a large single farm, with 6000ac of canola and 2000ac of wheat. At the beginning of September we undertook a major blowdown and clean of all equipment to prepare it to cross international borders.

The machines are inspected thoroughly at the border crossing to ensure they are not carrying any grain or soil that could spread disease, weeds and other unwanted organic materials.

This was no small task, and took over a day per combine for three guys. Nothing less than absolute cleanliness would suffice.

With the machines looking like they just rolled off the production line, we hauled them to the border on trucks.

Here, the combines were unloaded and prepared for the two day drive to Archerwill, Saskatchewan, a trip of 425 miles. Canadian transport laws dictate that the truck carrying the combine with the header hooked onto the rear is an illegally long combination.

So, to avoid making return trips for each of the headers, it was decided to drive the combines up there.

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We duly hooked the canola pick-up headers onto the front, the wheat headers on the rear, and hit the road.

Travelling at approximately 20mph, it took the guys almost 22 hours of driving to reach their destination!

The combines arrived and immediately began harvesting wheat. This had been sown at the end of May, and suffered a very dry period until mid-July, when it began raining and forgot to stop.

The yield was just average, at approximately 1.5 tonnes per acre, and the crop was combined at about 13pc moisture.

The canola had been swathed into 35 foot rows about 18 days before harvest.

It too had suffered from poor weather, and yielded an average of 1.2 tonnes per acre, at about 11pc moisture. Some of the stalks of canola were still quite green, and it was a very aggressive crop on the combines.

On one occasion some of the bolts holding the grates under the rotor snapped, sending a 12" by 12" steel grate out through the chopper on the rear of the machine.

That was not a pretty sight, and required quite a few new chopper blades.

The weather in Canada was not good to us, and it rained for 14 of the 23 days we spent there.

This meant we had to leave some acres behind for the farmer to finish with his own combine.

It also meant a lot of downtime for the crew, which was spent paintballing, exploring the area and surrounding towns, fishing on a nearby lake, and visiting a local cattle mart.

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