A harvest helping handThe state is making an effort to connect combiners looking for work and farmers in need of harvest help through a harvest hotline, and officials say it’s effective.
The state is making an effort to connect combiners looking for work and farmers in need of harvest help through a harvest hotline, and officials say it’s effective.
Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has activated the hotline because of the lateness of this year’s crops.
“The harvest should be well underway, and it really has just begun,” Goehring said. “This is putting a lot of pressure on producers and combiners to get the crops harvested quickly. Harvest Hotline, which matches farmers with custom harvesters, was created for this kind of situation.”
Ray Hauck, a mechanic with Dakota Farm Equipment of Dickinson, said the shop is busy doing service work on combines, seeing about 45 to 50 machines each season.
“With custom combiners we don’t do as much service but a lot of parts,” said Jolene Messer, office manager for the shop. “Our parts department is tremendously busy this time of year.”
Ken Junkert, a plant industries program manager with the state department of health, said the hotline, which was first used in 1992, is extremely helpful and was even asked for this year.
“It’s interesting, we had people — even before we announce it every year— calling in and saying we know you did that the previous year, it was helpful, are you doing it again this year,” Junkert said. “It(hotline) is helpful especially in situations of late season crops, where there may be pressure to get things off.”
As of last Thursday, Junkert said about 12 harvesters, 8 of which out of state; and two producers were on the list.
“The number really does vary depending on the climatic condition and the condition of harvest,” Junkert said. “If we’re having a real wet year or a late harvest season and there’s more pressure to get crops off quicker, then there’s more pressure from our producers to find more custom combiners to help them get their crops off in a timely fashion.”
The lateness of this year’s harvest will likely add to increased pressure from producers, he added.
“Producers that may not usually use custom combiners will call in and say that they need help,” Junkert said.
Kris Mapel, a custom harvester from Blackwell, Okla., said he’s looking for work in North Dakota but hasn’t received any calls.
“I saw it in the paper one day and we were sitting where the wheat wasn’t ready so I called to see if anybody where wheat was ready needed help,” Mapel said. “I haven’t had a call.”
Mapel said he’s been doing custom combining all his life and runs two machines.
“I’m pretty busy from middle of May to middle of November,” Mapel said. “It’s typical we’ll be here (North Dakota) until the middle of September in wheat.”
Mapel said he does wheat, soybeans and milo as well.
“North Dakota’s been a good state to me over the years,” Mapel
Callers to the Harvest Hotline are listed in a database that NDDA personnel use to match producers with combiners. The service is free of charge.
To contact the Harvest Hotline, call 701-328-1500.
The hotline will be staffed weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Callers may leave a message evenings and weekends.