There were a few bumps along the way, but it ended well.
(Click on image to make it bigger.)
|The screenshot capture above is taken from one the videos I made. |
Here is a link to the YouTube Playlist I created that has four short video clips of the harvesting process.
I ended up loading out 18.5 semi-loads, each of which could hold a maximum of 63,000 lbs, from the 100 acres of organic corn. I'm still waiting to get the final figures from the buyer, Cashton Farm Supply, as there are still about 500 bushels (at 56 lbs/bushel, that's about 28,000 lbs) to get loaded off of the combine and grain cart. Once that's delivered in a few days I'll have a better handle on the numbers. At this point I'm comfortable saying the yield was very good, a bit higher than our initial, optimistic, estimates.
[Updated to say that we ended up averaging 168 bu/acre, close to the highest yield that's come off of this ground before. As all the previous crops were grown with conventional production methods, this is even more impressive. As a benchmark, the county average (again, for conventionally grown corn) is 150 bu/acre.]
The harvesting routine was as follows. I started by filling two trucks which the truckers would take down to Cashton, WI (175 miles one way) at 3am the next day, so they could unload at the mill when that opened at 7am. They would then turn around and drive back to Turtle Lake, arriving around 11am. That same morning I would be combining, filling the grain cart (450 bushels) and combine (375 bushels) so that when the trucks showed up I could dump into the first truck. I'd then combine for about 3 hours to fill up the remaining space in both trucks. Next I'd call the truckers, who would take them down to Cashton, returning to Turtle Lake between 9 and 10pm. Lastly I'd fill up both trucks as I'd done earlier in the day, finishing between 1 and 2am (of the following day). The truckers would show up at 3am to then take both trucks down to Cashton.
We followed that process for 4 days and nights. There were a couple days at the beginning and end to take care of the loose ends. There were also a couple late night combine problems, one which required us to shut down for a day and half until Ronnie, the Deere field mechanic could come out and repair the combine. Fortunately the weather cooperated.
Once I get the remaining corn unloaded I can clean out the combine and grain cart by using compressed air, a leaf blower, and a shop vac. I want to remove as many of the corn kernels as possible to keep the mice from infesting the combine, where they wreck havoc on wiring harnesses, etc. After a thorough cleaning I'll put all the equipment away and shut the big shed doors for the year. It looks like I'll still have some non-miserable weather for the next 5 days so I can get that done.
Next spring 25 acres of this corn ground will be drilled with forage peas that will be harvested in August. Then we will put Kernza, a newly developed perennial wheatgrass, on those acres, with the remaining 75 acres getting planted with organic soybeans.
I have ideas on what I can do differently in the coming years. That said it was a very good result.