Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Video: See one Irishman help harvest 10,000 acres of corn in the US

Photos: Ear to the Ground
Photos: Ear to the Ground
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

See the Irishmen involved in the US harvest this Thursday on Ear to the Ground

This week's Ear to the Ground has some amazing footage from the US harvest when Darragh McCullough caught up with Louthman John Hoey who is working for Frederick Harvesting.

Hoey is a graduate of Kildalton Agricultural College and is from a 350ac tillage farm back home in Casltlebellingham in Louth.

He landed out in Alden, Kansas in April to work with Frederick Harvesting, where the first job was to get a truck driving licence. Then he was all set for the epic harvest journey that takes Lance Frederick’s nine brand new, top-of-the-range John Deere combines from Kansas nearly 1,000 miles north close to the Canadian border.

The 20-man crew are literally on the road, complete with massive mobile homes, fuel and repair trucks, and about $5m of kick-ass machinery.

According to McCullough, it was simply awesome to witness the crew at full tilt, and veteran Ear to the Ground cameraman, Michael Edge was in his element.

The combines clock up over 10,000ac during the course of a single season - more than they’d manage during a lifetime on most Irish farms. Indeed, by the time the machines have cut their last crop of the season, they are simply sold off, and an order is placed for nine new combines - a tillage farmer’s dream come through!

Frederick Harvesting

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The son of a banker, Lance Frederick has obviously excelled at his chosen profession. Both he and his brother started contract harvesting with a single machine back in the 1980s and, through their professionalism, have built up a business that cuts close to 120,000ac annually. In the process, the Fredericks have built up their own 8,000ac farming operation in Kansas. But they’ve worked hard for it - often working seven-days-a-week for weeks on end without getting home.

There are four Irish guys on the crew - driving 300hp and 400hp machines and cutting in 600ac fields is also an experience of a lifetime for these lads.

John O’Brien from Clare, who is on his second season, says that the “work is very easy because it’s fun. The craic with the other lads is great. I’d nearly do it for nothing!”

John Hoey’s job was to drive a ‘chaser bin’ - trailers that the combines are able to empty their tanks into on the move. These chaser bins are then able to disgorge their entire contents - 30t of grain - into a waiting fleet of artic trucks that ferry the grain to the local grain elevator.

Farms could be over 10,000ac in size so logistics are a big part of making the operation run smoothly. Sunflowers, cereals, maize and alfalfa were all common crops in the region - a far cry from the dust bowl that ravaged the midwest 75 years previously. Min-till cultivation, combined with a judicious crop rotation has allowed farmers to once again unleash the potential of the vast plains.

The show is on Thursday at 8.30pm.

Louthman John Hoey working with Frederick Harvesting.
Louthman John Hoey working with Frederick Harvesting.

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