Sunday, November 1, 2009

Combining soybeans in northern Ohio at night

In the final week of October, I visited relatives in NW Ohio. As I drove through the flat countryside, I could see clouds of dust in nearly every enormous field of soybeans because farmers were finally able to get into their fields with heavy combines. Rain was forecast, so everybody was working against the clock. As long as the moisture content remained below about 14%, farmers would not be docked $0.50/bushel. Experience told them years ago that they could work into the night until the dew descends, so one could see combines crisscrossing fields with powerful headlights, enormous semi trucks parked on small country roads, waiting to be loaded and go to the local farmers' co-op elevators where the soybeans would be weighed, sold or stored.

These photographs show my brother-in-law David hard at work near Ridgeville, Ohio. He showed us how some of the bean pods had already opened, dropping beans on the ground. Because weather did not let farmers harvest as early as usual, this year's crop would obviously be lessened. His beans are destined for making oil.