As harvest comes to a close, we’re reminded once again of nature’s power. The drought in Texas that devastated crops and livestock. The excessive spring moisture that prevented 30 percent of Manitoba from even being seeded.
Yet something else also stands out in the 2011 harvest reports from throughout North America. And that is, thanks to continuous innovations in big iron, farmers are increasingly able to work around Mother Nature. Obviously we’ll never defeat her completely, but we’re definitely winning more battles.
Harvest season is over in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, says Ryan Braun, the Case IH combine product specialist who covers the area. Braun – no relation to the Milwaukee Brewers slugger/MVP candidate of the same name – has served as a combine specialist for about a year and a half. Before joining Case IH, he spent three years working on a Syngenta research farm, and another six years at MacDon industries in Winnipeg. Braun grew up on a small grains farm just outside of Winnipeg, which his family still operates. He says he’s a big fan of farm equipment in general, but that he’s always been fascinated with combines “because of the incredible job they do.”
Canola and wheat are all done – even the stragglers are off. There are a couple inches of snow on the ground now. Some guys had a wet spring so they seeded late. But even those guys are done, and harvest went well.
In western Canada, Mother Nature blessed farmers with a great growing season – but a seriously challenging harvest – says this week’s guest blogger, Louis Melanson. A Case IH combine product specialist since 1999, Melanson has been with the company for 35 years. He grew up on a farm in eastern Canada, and has always been drawn to big agricultural iron. He wound up working with combines because he was intrigued by the capability to use 30-foot plus headers at 5 mph to harvest canola, which is a very light seed. Melanson jokes that he became a combine specialist “by reading the manual.”
Canola and wheat account for the majority of crops in my area, along with some barley. We’re probably 90 percent done with canola. But it’s getting tougher to get that last 10 percent out, because the snow’s starting to fall. Customers can only combine a few hours a day.
This week’s guest blogger, Kevin Knapp, says harvest progress and yields are all over in his territory, depending on where on the map you’re located. Knapp is the Case IH combine product specialist serving northern Illinois, northern Indiana, northwest Ohio, nearly all of Wisconsin and Michigan. Prior to becoming the area’s combine specialist, Knapp spent six years as a combine test engineer for Case IH, travelling the world to test Case IH Axial-Flow combine technology in just about every imaginable crop and condition. Knapp grew up on a farm in Henry, Ill., and has been intrigued by combines for as long as he can remember. (“My mom could tell you stories,” he says.)
Harvest is progressing well in guest blogger Corwyn Lepp’s territory, which includes several states and a variety of crops. Lepp is the Case IH combine product specialist covering South Dakota, southeastern North Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Crops include corn, soybeans, winter and spring wheat and sunflowers – along with a little bit of milo, edible beans and popcorn. Lepp grew up on a farm and has spent his entire career working with combines. (They’re his favorite machines.) With 27 years of machinery experience and starting at International Harvester, Lepp spent 12 years as a territory service manager, and 13 years as a territory sales manager before jumping into his combine specialist role two years ago.
The predominant crops in my area are corn and soybeans, and we’ve had good weather for harvest – virtually two straight months of very nice weather with no rain delays. The corn and bean crops have been good, but very dry. I think weather may have impacted yields somewhat, because we had very little rainfall in July and August.
According to the United Nations, today is the day. Our population will reach 7 billion.
And, while most of us are blessed to have a bountiful food supply – and even a healthy stash of treats on this Halloween day – this population milestone has many asking what it will take to meet the needs of a population that is growing by an estimated 200,000 people each day.
Harvest is progressing well in the North Central region, thanks to dry weather throughout the harvest season. It never rained during soybean harvest. And according to guest blogger Mike King, the Case IH combine product specialist for Minnesota and Central Iowa, the only thing slowing down the corn harvest is some down corn in a few areas. A member of the combine team (which he calls “the best job in the company”) since 2006, King has been with Case IH for 23 years.
It’s not nearly as serious as what Texas is suffering through, but drought in the Midwest remains moderate to severe, and corn yields are lower. The lack of moisture isn’t critical yet, but it’s getting there, says guest blogger Terry Snack, the Case IH combine product specialist for Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin. Born and raised on a farm in east central Illinois, Snack went to work for International Harvester at about the same time the first Axial-Flow combine was introduced 35 years ago. In his three-plus decades with the company, Snack still “lives and breathes” combines.
From humble beginnings 25 years ago, the World Food Prize has grown into a week-long recognition of food security issues and a celebration of those working to curb it. Called the World Food Prize Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, the event brings together world leaders to address current food issues and future needs in feeding people around the globe. The Prize was presented in Des Moines, Iowa last week.
When we talk about being ready, Dr. Norman Borlaug walked the walk. He worked tirelessly to improve grain varieties, and was honored as a 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for his efforts. He supported the integration of public and private research efforts into viable technologies, and encouraged political leaders to bring these advances to fruition. Dr. Borlaug founded the World Food Prize, and would be proud of what it has become.
There’s good news and bad news in the harvest reports coming out of the Southern Plains. Severe drought in Texas and Oklahoma has obviously taken a toll on yields in 2011. The good news is: Prices for some crops are twice what they were in 2010, and harvest is ahead of schedule, says this week’s harvest blogger, Dan Renaud (“the guy with the suspenders”). Renaud is the Case IH combine product specialist responsible for Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. With the company for 31 years, Renaud has spent the last 16 years as a Case IH product specialist, and the last decade focusing solely on combines. Like all Case IH product specialists, Renaud is based in the field, where he can most efficiently support Case IH customers and dealers.