Sitting with Ronnie Carlson inside the air-conditioned cab of his combine is almost as pleasant as having a conversation with him in his living room.
Outside noise is minimal.
“Harvesting is the best part of raising wheat,” Carlson said. “I can sit in air-conditioning and enjoy combining clean wheat. Getting equipment ready and marketing are difficult parts.”
He is using a New Holland TR 98 that he and his sons, Lucas and Eric, jointly own. The combine has a 24-foot floating header and a 240-bushel bin. With four-wheel drive and two large rear tires, the machine carries well even when fields aren’t completely dry.
Ten indicator lights on a monitor inside the cab give warning when something goes wrong with various parts. Another monitor keeps tabs on the engine, with gauges indicating water temperature, oil, fuel, and electrical.
The Carlsons have more than 500 acres to cut. Harvest began Thursday at their farm east of Lincolnville and got going in earnest Friday, before being stopped short by rain Saturday.
With the temperature climbing into the upper 90s Monday, conditions were perfect for drying soggy fields and ripening grain.
Marty Bell, Carlson’s long-time employee, delivered a load of wheat to the Agri-Producers elevator at Lincolnville at 4 p.m. Monday. The grain tested at 11.2 percent moisture and 60.1 pounds per bushel, indicating the weekend rain hadn’t lowered the quality.
Baring more rain delays or unexpected equipment problems, Carlson expects to be done by the end of the week. He said the wheat he had cut so far yielded 40 to 54 bushels per acre.
He sowed Overly, Dominator, and Jagger varieties. He said Dominator worked well as a double crop after milo harvest because it seemed to develop in a shorter period than the others.
Carlson has a feedlot operation and spreads manure from the lots onto his fields on a rotating basis. He also uses alfalfa in his crop rotation. Both practices reduce the amount of fertilizer needed to produce high-yielding crops.
On more than 200 of the harvested acres, Carlson is following up with no-till soybeans and milo. He said double-cropping usually was successful, but it depends on Mother Nature.
“The timing has to be just right,” he said. “We have to get the crops in by July 1.”
Lucas and Eric are married, with children, and have full-time jobs. Lucas lives in Wichita, and Eric lives in Marion. They help their father whenever they can. Each son has his own land, but the three also own a quarter section of land jointly in a corporation dubbed Clear Creek Enterprises.
“Farming is a pleasure,” Ronnie said. “The challenge is in keeping all the equipment together and operating properly.”