Remembering the Red River Special
(Page 4 of 4)
My dad was someone I really respected. Honest to a fault. So you can imagine my surprise, almost dismay, the evening I saw him turn his Westclox Pocket Ben watch back 10 minutes and assure one of the men that there was plenty of time (it was really 7 p.m.) to unload into the separator that last load of sheaves. A small bending of the truth by Dad – something I never witnessed again as long as he lived.
That kind of harvesting was the norm over 60 years ago. In the early 1950s the pull-type and self-propelled combines took over and threshing machines became instant dinosaurs. Swathers replaced binders and the stooking operation was no more. All those harvest workers disappeared as one person could now do it all.
Not only that, but in this 21st century, one farmer operating a modern combine with help from a grain truck operator, often a spouse, can straight combine – no binder, no stooking, not even a swather – twice as many acres in a day as the old 10-man threshing crew could do. And today those 4,000 to 5,000 bushels would be safely stored in a metal, aerated hopper-bottomed grain bin. The $300,000 today’s farmer has invested in that high-tech, computerized combine for use rarely more than three weeks a year would be enough money to buy outright 10 half-section family farms of the 1930s.
Today’s yields are double, or more than double those of the 1930s or ’40s – probably due to better weed control, newer varieties of grain and more fertilizer. Thirty bushels to the acre of Marquis or Redman wheat was then thought to be good; today’s bearded wheat varieties yield 60 to 70 bushels per acre.
Thinking back now, old-time harvesting was a fascinating series of activities in spite of all the difficulties and hard work. I am glad I was there to take part in it. FCFor more information: Keith Smith, e-mail: email@example.com.
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