The Fall harvest season is arguably the most demanding season of the year for Idaho farmers. This year, significantly more corn, chickpeas and potatoes were planted in the state along with other crops including barley, wheat, hay and sugar beets. All of that hard work means harvesting, reaping, cleaning, packing, storing, and delivering the ripe goods of the season.
With so many things to do, time can often be in short supply, and mistakes can impact your farm’s bottom line. With harvest season approaching, here’s a list of things you can do now to prepare ahead of time to make the most of your time and energy.
Scout and inspect crops
Before harvest season starts, inspect crops for weeds or insect damage. Handle any issues with either pest sooner rather than later. Continue to monitor fields for crop development and maturity and use all this information to plan for your order of harvest. Additionally, take note of how your crops are progressing and consider making field notes of this year’s performance to inform your decisions in the next planting season.
Map an order of harvest
Many crops ripen in the fall, and it is most efficient to have a sense of exactly what will be ready to harvest first, second, and so on. Pay attention to what crops are maturing more quickly or more slowly than others and have a plan of attack for the order in which you plan to harvest crops. If there are any diseased crops, decide when to harvest those so you have ample time to clean equipment before harvesting the healthy crop. You may decide to leave damaged or diseased crops until last knowing their yield is already limited.
Prepare and clean equipment
Don’t wait until the day before the harvest starts to inspect your equipment. It is a good idea to charge the combine battery if it has been sitting through the summer months, and it is always wise to check your tractor engine. Additionally, check for cracked hoses and leaking fuel lines as they can cause major safety issues. Be sure your equipment is clean as well. Combine and tractor fires can result if the engines of either machine have grease, dust or build-up on them. Here’s a pre-operational checklist for tractors that might come in handy.
Check, clean and repair storage
If grain bins haven’t already been emptied and cleaned, now is the time to do so! Additionally, check for rodent or insect infestation problems, which could lead to significant financial losses. It is also important to check for cracks or breaks and repair any damage so pests cannot crawl in and ruin your harvest. It is paramount to check, clean and repair all storage facilities and containers, so they are empty and ready for storage of the next set of crops that will soon be harvested.
Review safety and emergency plan
Harvest season can be one of the most dangerous times of the year. Don’t sacrifice safety to save time; review safety procedures with all farm hands and employees and have a plan in case of emergencies. Additionally, consider creating a hazard map so everyone is aware of potential dangers around the farm, for example, low-hanging power lines.
With these preparations practiced and taken into consideration, hopefully you’ll have a successful harvest season that is productive and profitable. To learn more about getting the right insurance for your farm, contact your local FBMICI agent.
Disclaimer: The information included here is designed for informational purposes only. It is not legal, tax, financial or any other sort of advice, nor is it a substitute for such advice. The information may not apply to your specific situation. We have tried to make sure the information is accurate, but it could be outdated or even inaccurate in parts.
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennsylvania State University
Corn Belt Testing, Inc.