By MORGAN KUNTZ, For The Prairie Star
DAGMAR, Mont. – Life on the family farm in northeastern Montana usually runs all the way through Tanner Jorgensen. However, there is a distinct difference between the hustle and bustle of everyday farm life and the hustle and bustle of harvest preparations. And right now, Tanner is in the thick of harvest preparations.
“Things got busy here. We’re hauling grain, spraying fungicide, and we got the combine out a week ago and just finished,” Tanner said in a July 19 phone update.
He estimated they would have headers in their pea crop by August 1.
“The plan is to start with peas. After a few weeks of harvesting peas, we’ll switch to canola, then we’ll switch to durum,” he said.
Needless to say, now is the start of a marathon race through the harvest. It’s a demanding time of year, but it’s also an exciting time of year. The end of the growing season is upon growers in Montana, so it’s literally time for them to reap what they’ve sown.
Tanner feels grateful as he turns to the harvest. After battling a crippling drought in 2020 and again in 2021, it is heartening to look across his fields and see healthy crop stands.
“It’s an extra cost, but usually when we have to spray fungicide, it’s a sign that we have a good harvest ahead,” he pointed out.
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In 2019, the Jorgensens saw record yields in their fields. They had to spray fungicide that year too. Tanner doesn’t think this year’s returns will top those of 2019, but they look healthy and will certainly be better than last year’s, and that’s what matters.
The Jorgensens will use two combines throughout the harvest. With three different cultures to traverse, it takes a bit of orchestration. They have two sets of headers for each combine: a flex header with a draping strap they use on peas and canola, then a stripping header they use on wheat hard. Combine concaves should also be changed after harvesting peas and before harvesting canola.
“Changing cultures becomes a bit of a process, but you get used to it after a while and learn to make it quick and easy,” Tanner said with his signature chuckle.
As excitement builds for the start of the harvest, Tanner and his family will stay busy cleaning the bins and getting the machinery ready.
The temperatures are a bit warm, which Tanner laments is hard to bear for a northerner like him, but the heat helps crops ripen and burst.
Overall, things are going well in northeast Montana, and Tanner is counting his blessings. Having the opportunity to manage the family lands alongside his mother and father is both humbling and empowering, but it’s ultimately what fuels Tanner’s soul.
“I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a farmer, I really don’t know,” he said.
The harvest is close and life is good in Dagmar, Mont.