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Custom Harvesting

Discussion in 'Agricultural Operations' started by skiibumm1, Mar 20, 2009.

  1. skiibumm1

    skiibumm1 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    I was wondering if anyone has worked for a custom crew? The pros and cons would be great. I'm still young and single, I would get some good equipment experience.
     
  2. bigblueox

    bigblueox Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Messages:
    348
    Location:
    virginia
    good way to see the country. it's a long day in one piece of equipment. or a long day watching it rain or snow. you want to try it? most guys will be tooling up in a month or so, depending on what latitude they start at. if you go get a satellite radio or i-pod!
     
  3. Turbo21835

    Turbo21835 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,135
    Location:
    Road Dog
    Any money in it? Growing up around farming, its something ive always thought about trying for a season or two, just have never gotten to it.
     
  4. Cretebaby

    Cretebaby Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    284
    Location:
    E. Iowa
  5. Hendrik

    Hendrik Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Messages:
    1,232
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    I've done a bit of contract harvesting and hated it, you get all the crap crops that the farmer doesn't want to harvest. Sure you get some good ones as well, nice even standing crop of wheat being my favourite. You can really load the machine up and get some tonnage done.
    I think my best effort was 25 tonnes in an hour but these days that would be pretty standard with the bigger machines being made.
     
  6. Tacodriver

    Tacodriver Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2006
    Messages:
    99
    Occupation:
    Yarder op, hoechucker, lowbedder etc..
    Location:
    East Kootaneys
    Do it if you want to see the prairies and the small towns of the midwest. I did it for a summer and it was interesting and something different, I did grow up on a farm in manitoba so a combine was second nature to me.
    If you do end up going research the company ie. what kind of accom. hotel or travel trailer(hotels nice someone makes your bed every day) talk to guys that have worked previous years to get an idea what the crew is like(you spend 24hrs a day with them) and food ect..
    If it is a good season you can make a decent amount of money. Rain delays , crops not being ready, means you might get to do some sightseeing but you wont make much.
     
  7. skiibumm1

    skiibumm1 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    It seems that most of the crews have trailers, also I don't know if it's too late to land a job. I don't have a cdl which most are looking for. Do you get paid by hour or job? What's average pay, I don't have any farm experience, but some equipment experience.
     
  8. Deere9670

    Deere9670 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    387
    Occupation:
    Farm equipment operator
    Location:
    Illinois
    I started out running a grain cart. Its an easy job, that doesent take much experience. As for the CDL, im sure you could find a crew looking for a cart man, and not just a driver. Alot of guys shy away from the trucking, because it can get boring at times, and these positions are always left over. Your equipment experience should come in handy when caring for the machine. As long as you keep the chains oiled, augers and bearings greased, and tractor up and running, you should be good to go....Now as for keeping the combine up and running, thats a different story:pointhead Custom harvesting is not for everyone.....They work some long days, and travel long distances.....if you score a job with a crew...be sure to show us some pics of the operation....Its a neat deal
     
  9. Deerehauler

    Deerehauler Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    SW Nebraska
    I did the custom harvesting thing back in the early 80's. We had college guys on our crews and we had a good time. The hours are long and while you don't necessarily have to like everybody on the crew you do need to be able to get along with people. I am glad that I went.

    A word of warning, and this is good advise for anyone on a crew. DO NOT let yourself get put in position to be the scapegoat. Every crew has one and everyone gets to be the scapegoat occasionally--just don't be the scapegoat all the time. Do your job and keep your equipment clean and running. If someone else's combine or truck breaks down, help them with it. If you are a truck driver, help the combines get running first. When they get going, you will have time to check your truck over. Don't hide when there is work to be done. Take responsibilty if you break something. Remember the golden rule; do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
     
  10. LonestarCobra

    LonestarCobra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Messages:
    228
    Location:
    WV
    I did the harvest the summers when I was 19, and 20 years old. I had grown up farming, but we never cut the amount of grain in 10 years that we cut on the harvest in one week. I enjoyed it. The outfit i worked for was a family owned business ran by a man and his 2 sons. They had 10 Gleaner R-62 Combines that were no older than 2 years. The Peterbilt trucks were very nice also. We stayed about 4 of us per RV and it did get crowded near the end of harvest. We started cutting in May, in Abilene, Tx. We progressed to the Texas panhandle, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and ended up in Wyoming in August. We cut about 1000 acres of wheat per day. I spent most of my time hauling to the elevator, but also got plenty of seat time in the combine. All meals and lodging were furnished, and we got paid at end of harvest. The owners would advance you some cash if you needed it. I left home with $500.00 and still had $200.00 of it when harvest was over. This was 17 years ago, and they paid a respectable $2500/mo plus a bonus if you worked good and didnt tear anything up through the harvest. I recommend it if you are interested. I might say that it was my favorite job to this day. Beware that when you roll into a new town the locals lock their daughters up. The guys I worked for would not hire rif-raff and we had a better reputation tham most of the custom cutters. Keep that in mind.
     
  11. tmh774

    tmh774 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Occupation:
    Lowboy driver
    Location:
    illinois
    Do it! I worked for Frederick Harvesting out of Alden,KS back in '98 and '99 and loved it. Lance and Drew where the two best guys that I have worked for. At that time we ran 6 new 9610's each year that I was there. I drove truck both years but also got alot of time in the combine or cart also. Think of it more as a experience to see the country and meet alot of good people along the way than filling your pocket book. I bounced back and forth between crews and was able to make all the spots they cut at. We had two home cooked meals each day made by their wives that was a great plus as some crews eat at restraunts all season longs and that gets old quick! They had two bunk houses that we stayed had a washer and dryer a huge plus! I could keep going on and on about it. I would not think twice about. And I second what Deerehauler also said. Good luck. Check them out frederickharvesting.com
     
  12. Gadgetman

    Gadgetman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Messages:
    63
    Occupation:
    project manager and operator
    Location:
    KS
    I think everyone should experience a custom harvest run right out of school. A good way to learn how to make do with what you have, and a place to learn good work ethics in the real world. Everyone has to pull their weight,or catch the next bus home.

    It's been 25 yrs since I was on a crew and still miss it. Loved the go,go,go pace. For 4 yrs I started out on a silage cutting crew,then hopped into a combine for the wheat run,and finished up cutting milo and beans. All I needed was a winter job for a few months before it started up again. Met lots of great people,and have memories I'll never forget. Go for it !
     
  13. Hendrik

    Hendrik Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Messages:
    1,232
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Some further tips, if they stick you on a chaser bin, make sure you look after it.
    Whenever you get the chance check it over to make sure everything is as it should be. Ask questions about where the weak spots of the machine are. Machines are checked in on and off position. Once you got your machine ready for a days work go over and help the others get their machines ready. It takes a while to learn all the grease points of a harvester but these days they have less than they used to, the best way to learn is to count them off (I was chatting with an old hand one day and he said to me "I spend a lot of hours on a Massey 740, you know why they are called a 740? Because they have 740 grease nipples that need to be greased twice a day).
    Also just because there is a grease nipple it does not mean it has to be greased, some are daily, some are 50hrs, some are 200hrs. Also some grease nipples need a little and some need less.
    Even just removing/replacing safety shields is a help to the operator and he/she will appreciate you for it.
    It is a fine line between being a suck up and being helpful to get the show on the road.
    Don't just always help the boss, the other team members will point and say things like "what an giant suck up", the number 2 on the crew is always a good person to get on with but also help the truck drivers by offering to check their tire pressures, that is a bad job because the dust sits in the rim and as you put on the tester on the valve some of the dust will blow in your face.
    The boss will appreciate you trying to help the team and will not be happy if he sees you standing by your machine doing nothing, whilst others are busy to get going.
    Re-fueling is another job operators hate that is a good one for you to do.
    Remember when you are new you are supposed to show enthusiasm and ask questions.
    Lastly remember where you started and when you work your way up the food chain and a newbie comes along with questions, help him/her out.
    Oooh yeah almost forgot, fire safety is a big thing, make sure fire fighting equipment is 100%. Always park the machine in a fire safe zone when possible. If there is a fire fighting truck make sure you learn how to use it ASAP. If you're machine does not have a shovel, ask to get one. A good outfit will have a shovel on every machine.
    Another thing is use the two way properly, don't have the radio up loud and fail to hear your call sign. Funnily enough those with experience can tell when an operator has the radio turned up.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2009
  14. North Texan

    North Texan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Messages:
    92
    Location:
    North Texas
    I went on harvest for a custom cutter for a while. We ran one combine (R72) and two bobtail trucks. Cutting wheat, we tried to get about 200 acres a day. We followed the wheat harvest to Nebraska, then went back south to Texas to follow the milo harvest. Harvesting milo, we couldn't do as much, because most of those south Texas elevators were slower than Christmas. I did not make anywhere close to $2500/month, and this was less than 10 years ago.
     
  15. thejdman04

    thejdman04 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    Messages:
    582
    Location:
    Illinois
    I looked into it a few years back. I never went. Depending on the crew, some crews assign you your job, aka your a combine operator, cart operator etc etc. Some crews rotate, daily or weekly, theyll switch you from the truck to the cart to the combine to mix it up a bit. The one operator I was very much considering said they paid 2750 per month. That was living in their trailer, they provided a sack lunch and the owners wife would cook a hot supper, big supper. He said some days you would run 16-20 hours per day and run 7 days a week. If the weathers good and you are running 16 hours per day thats 112 hours a week. 4 weeks a month, 448 hours a month. That breaks down to 6.13 per month. Granted the provide room and food. That accounts for something but its not great money. The guy I was seriously talking to said even on rainy days, youd be working, probably not 16 hours, but still probably 8 hours per day, even in the rain, and theres no shops to pull your machine in. He said youll do oil changes, adjust the clutch on the truck, maybe change tires on the truck if need be, adjust the brakes, grease everything etc etc. I think it woudl be an adventure. I found a job and didnt really commit to anything and didnt go, but it would be an experience. If you are doing it for the pay I think you will be disappointed. Another thing to consider, I like to go tractor pulling in the summer, if you are with a lot of these crews, you get no personnal time, no county fairs etc etc. Just something to consider.
     
  16. Gadgetman

    Gadgetman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Messages:
    63
    Occupation:
    project manager and operator
    Location:
    KS
    For the most part that sums it up,but I doubt in 4 yrs I had more than a 2 weeks stretch of 16hr days. You always end up with a break somewhere. Either your loading up,traveling to the next job (no wide loads after dark),getting rained out,or trucks getting held up at the elevators.

    We had our fun days too. Got rained out west of Pierre SD,and spent a day at Mt. Rushmore. Made several truck and tractor pulls,spent days screwing around and partying with the ranch hands,bar hopping on the weekends. Hardly ever ran on Sundays unless we got behind.

    If you don't blow all your cash on the road,you end up with a pretty good wad at the end of the run. You don't have the time to blow it on hobbies. For a young person without a "home" it's not too bad. No rent or utilities. Shoot, I paid cash for several of my hotrods in the fall months. At 20 yrs old I had 2 pickups,a Blazer,a Roadrunner,and a 750 suzuki. Oh to be young and stupid again! Stupid because I sold that Roadrunner for $1300. :Banghead
     
  17. Ace

    Ace Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Orleans, IN
    I ve worked for a crew called Sykora Harvesting out of Beardsley, MN for the last 3 years and have loved it! I'll probably end up doing it again next year. Im 21 yrs old and started right out of high school, the day after I graduated I was heading to Oklahoma to start on wheat. We run 6 Deere 9770s and make stops in Rocky,Ok, Rush Center, KS, Atwood,KS, Onida,SD, Donnybrook,ND and finish up on their home farm in Beardsley, MN. I think we covered roughly 56,000 acres in 2008. Its been the experience of a lifetime and I wouldnt trade it for the world. I could tell stories all day long but its just hard to explain, its something that some people like and some dont. I've brought several friends out there and I always tell them you have to live while you can. One of these days you ll be 50 yrs old sitting there always wondering what it would ve been like. You ll never know if you dont go!
     
  18. Angel2120

    Angel2120 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Texas
    Another Option

    Not all custom harvesters are massive combine crews. Here in the Texas panhandle dairyland silage is the big deal. You cut wheat for a couple months in the spring and then milo, millet, and corn in the fall for a couple months. If you just want a taste that would be an excellent way to go. We run New Holland Silage cutters and in the area between Lubbock and Amarillo I bet there is twenty or more outfits like ours looking for a hand for a month or two. They all need depending on the crop of course swather operators, rakes, packing tractors, and cutters. We pay by the day and provide housing and food. Theres no reason you can't spoil yourself a little and still take 90% of your pay home.
     
  19. TimHay

    TimHay Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Messages:
    136
    Occupation:
    Self employed
    Location:
    Onoway Alberta
    when i was 19 i went with an outfit from spruce grove alberta. they had 2 9510JD. Just five of us and the bosses wife. they treated use like family. we started in hobart Ok.
    best thing i did
     
  20. Ace

    Ace Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Orleans, IN
    I've done alot of work around hobart, ok. not a bad little town, alot of nice people around there.