SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As harvest wraps up here across KELOLAND, you may see the equipment lights out in the field at all hours of the night.
Combines, tractors and semis light up the night sky as this harvesting crew works through the night to finish harvesting this corn field as soon as possible.
“There isn’t enough time in the day, so we usually run in the night too,” Teagan Drietz, mechanic and equipment driver, said.
“It’s extremely common. I mean right about now it’s just the way it is, everybody is in a hurry to get stuff out and get stuff done so it’s nothing to have 16,17 hour days and you are going 7 days a week just to be able to get it done,” Jim Neyens, combine driver, said.
They are working long hours, sometimes working until 12 a.m.
“Basically, the main reason why we do it is because you get later into October and into November and sometimes even December, you don’t have the daylight like you normally have during the summer months. So we really don’t have a choice. You know, most times we will end up going until…like the other night we went until 11:30, you go til 12,” Drietz said. “We’ve had very fortunate weather so far that everything’s been dry, we haven’t had any rain days or anything like that.
But, with the nighttime harvest, there also comes some challenges and risks added.
“It’s harder to see if something is coming quick, or rocks or anything like that through the corn rows,” Drietz said.
“For the combine operators it’s a lot more difficult just for the fact of you know you can’t see, you can see about 200 feet in front of you and on each side of you, but you don’t know if there’s a rock if there’s a washout. For us in the semi you know, it’s being able to see the person coming down the road, or if there’s a deer or a pothole or anything,” Neyens said.
They also move from field to field during the night.
“It kind of depends on the road, if the road is small and narrow, you’ve got to watch the shoulders so you don’t get off and get sucked in the ditch and you’ve got to basically be weary of all the other drivers on the road. Sometimes they don’t realize how big we are when we are coming down the road,” Drietz said.
“I mean the main thing is a lot of these little gravel roads when you meet somebody on the gravel you know, we have a loaded semi so we’ve had it countless times before,” Neyens said. “Where you get into a bad, minimum maintenance road or a county road and you get on the edge and it will give out and it will send the truck over and you go in the ditch or something.”
With harvesters being out in the fields and on the roads at all hours of the night, they ask drivers to take extra caution and watch out for large, slow-moving vehicles on public roads.
“Basically, give us enough room to maneuver around and take your time coming around because we will try to get over as soon as we can,” Drietz said.
Doing everything they can to get the crop out at the right time.
“I mean with corn right now, the stalk is so brittle, and the ears, if you have good ears they get pretty heavy, if you get a wind…it doesn’t take much to snap that stalk over,” Neyens said. “And then all of the sudden instead of going 4 miles an hour at 17 acres an hour, you know you are down to two miles an hour and it will take all day to do what you could do in a half a day normally.”
With the dry conditions, harvest is moving along quicker than normal.
As of October 30, the United states department of agriculture reported that 82% of the corn in South Dakota was harvested, as compared to 70% at this time last year.
The five-year average for corn harvested at this time of the year is 52%. Soybeans were reported as 97% harvested.