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The Farm Animal Photo Contest is here!

The second annual Farm Animal Photo contest is here! Did you enjoy the AGCO Farm Dog photo contest last year?

This year we’re doing things a bit differently and you can now show off any animal for a chance to win the new iPad! Upload up to three different photos into the contest from now until Thursday, April 19, 2012. AGCO will then pick finalists from the pool of photos, where everyone will then vote for the winner! The grand prize winner will win the new iPad and four of the top finalists will win $25 iTunes gift cards.

Which of your farm animals will you show off? Enter now!

Gleaner Super Series Demo Combine Hits Australian Harvest

After all the news, coverage and widespread discussion, the time had finally come – the Gleaner Super Series combine hit the field in Australia!

The main feature of the Australian 2011/2012 harvest was the big, black S77 combine; travelling throughout Australia as part of the Gleaner Demo Program.

Starting in Springsure, Queensland, the Gleaner combine worked its way down to the southern state of Victoria.

“It’s fantastic to finally see the Gleaner S77 in action during harvest,” says Marcus Paul, Gleaner Product Manager. “After our Australian launch back in April 2011, dealers and customers alike had the opportunity to see the combine at work first hand,” he added.

This year’s harvest shaped up to be a hot one, with soaring temperatures in central Queensland and New South Wales. However, the heat didn’t affect the new Gleaner combines – grain samples were of the highest quality, with minimal losses – something customers across the country have been more than happy with.

Pictured: The Gleaner S77 working the fields in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.

What combine did you use this harvest?


Custom Harvesters And Their Homes Across The Midwest

It’s Kaitlyn again, reporting from the North America custom harvest run. Custom harvesters often work for the same farmers year after year, which allows us to visit the same towns annually. It is not uncommon to hear of a harvester cutting in the same place for a decade or more. We learn the good places to eat, the best fuel stops and of course, the establishments with the coldest drinks. We make friends who often feel like extended family, and every year it feels like we are returning to one of our homes when the wheat ripens in those towns.

Over lunch with the Kulhanek Harvesting crew last week, I learned that Shorty Kulhanek, owner and combine operator, has been on the harvest run “since he was little,”  according to his wife, Donna. When I asked Donna what stop was Shorty’s favorite, her answer was a reminder of how many of us grow up in many harvest towns across the Midwest.

“I’d say Potter, Nebraska would be one of Shorty’s favorite stops,” Donna said. “He’s been going there since he was little and he knows everyone. Shorty knows the area and he really enjoys stopping in Potter every year.”

The “like family” reference shows up commonly among harvesters. Shane Shepherd, a truck driver for Shepherd Harvesting, says his favorite stop is Spearman, Texas because he “practically grew up there with all of the same people every summer. Those people are like family to me.”

Our customers mean a lot to harvesters. Harvesters enjoy cutting for good farmers, and it is great when we can keep the same jobs every year.  My dad cut for the same farmer in Harper, Kansas for 30 years. When our farmer passed away, it was like losing a member of our extended harvest family.

Laramie DeBock, co-owner and combine operator at DeBock Harvesting, says his first stop on the wheat harvest is also his favorite. “My favorite stop is Olney, Texas,” Laramie said. “It’s our first stop so everybody’s excited to get to the field and our farmers are the nicest guys we work for all year. They are very loyal to us and it’s a great joy to work for them.”

While the people are usually one of the deciding factors of a harvester’s favorite stop, that’s not always the case. Jason Wagner, owner and combine operator for Wagner Harvesting, says, “I like all of the people everywhere I go, but my favorite place is probably Onida, South Dakota because of the big open fields.”

When it comes down to me, I’d say Oakley, Kansas is my favorite stop on the Nelson Farms custom run. I can remember making the trip south with my mom and sister to visit Dad in Oakley when I was little. Staying in our camper was cool as a kid and the campground we stayed at had mini-golf and a pool. Plus if the crew was rained out of the field, we would all go exploring at the Monument Rocks. When I was old enough to go on harvest, we were still staying at the same campground as when I was little. We were also cutting for the same farmer. Every time I pass through that area, I make a stop to see our customer and some of the friends I’ve made there. Oakley is just one of the many homes I have across the states we cut through and I’m sure I’m not the only harvester kid who feels like that.

Perhaps it’s traveling for work or being a part of the harvest – Tell us more about your home-away-from-home experiences and what is special about them.

From Green to Gleaner: Darrell Kuhn

While with the AGCO Parts Tech Van in Billings, MT, I had the privilege of spending two days in the field with Kuhn Harvesting.

Darrell Kuhn of Kuhn Harvesting

Darrell Kuhn of Kuhn Harvesting, Lakin, KS

Darrell Kuhn of Lakin, KS is no stranger to satisfying customers.  “Ambitious” is the word his son, Ben, uses to describe Darrell. From a custom hay operation to an equipment dealership, Darrell Kuhn has been there and done that — successfully. Five years ago, Kuhn Harvesting was started and from the looks of it, Darrell has never looked back.

“Harvest is a crazy lifestyle,” Kuhn says. “But I love it.”

Each year, Kuhn and his crew load six combines and head south to Wichita Falls, TX. For the 2011 harvest, however, two combines of a different color made the trip south. Enticed by the light weight, bigger bins, and two-stage cleaning process, Kuhn started transitioning from green combines to Gleaner S77s.

“Our other machines are heavy,” Kuhn says. “The Gleaners are lighter to reduce compaction, and that’s what no-till farmers want. They don’t want weight on their fields.”

Besides the weight factor, Kuhn says he sees a better sample of wheat from the Gleaners, which makes his farmers happy. Plus, Kuhn says the Gleaners are consistently cutting faster than the other machines, translating into more grain harvested. At times, the Gleaners are running two miles per hour faster, which is a very significant difference in the field.

Gleaner S77 Cab

Ben Kuhn's view from the cab of a Gleaner S77

“We run faster, we cut more wheat, and we can store more,” says Ben, who operates one of the Gleaners. “These combines are also easier to service so we can spend more time in the field.”

Based on the Gleaners’ performance this season, Kuhn says he is planning on completing the switch to Gleaner S77 combines for the 2012 harvest.

“The farmers we cut for have been impressed by the Gleaners,” Kuhn says. “I have been too, which is why we are going with all Gleaners next year.”

While Kuhn Harvesting may be switching colors, Darrell remains focused on customer satisfaction.

“Our farmers trust us with their land and their crops,” Kuhn says. “We have one farmer who thinks we do a better job than he does.”

And that’s why Darrell harvests:  the people.

“Sometimes I get disgusted by the government and the regulations,” Kuhn says. “But I don’t know what I’d do if I missed out on the relationships I’ve built.”

What made you switch to an AGCO brand from another brand?

Kuhn Gleaner S77

A storm gathers over the field near Hardin, MT while the Gleaner S77 cuts on.

Kuhn Gleaner S77s

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as the storm blew over, allowing for Kuhn Harvesting to finish their job in Hardin, MT.

Custom Harvesters: A Special Breed

Gleaner S77

Gleaner S77 combining wheat near Milesville, SD

We all have our place in harvest, from the South African man here in the United States who supports his family back home, to the consumer who might not always think of the hard work put in by so many people to make the toast they eat every morning. To make the custom harvest run happen, many people must play their role and every now and then, we take the time to show our appreciation.

Nelson Farms (my dad’s crew) just finished up harvest in Pierre, SD on Friday, August 5. It’s been a longstanding tradition with my family to have an appreciation supper for our farmers and crew at Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Pierre. This year, we were glad to have the AGCO Parts Tech Van crew join us at Cattleman’s. The crew from the tech van does a lot for the harvesters and it isn’t often they see how much they are appreciated. Hopefully, one of the best steaks in the country will be a reminder that we depend on and appreciate the work they do for us.

Nelson Farms Appreciation Supper

Fifteen people gathered at Cattleman's Steakhouse as a thank you for playing their role in harvest.

I look forward to the time at Cattleman’s every year, not only for the amazing steak, but also to see everyone relax and enjoy the company. The stop in Pierre lasts two to three weeks and consists of the most wheat acres our combines will harvest in one place throughout the year. The crew runs hard, and by the time the last acre is harvested, everyone is ready to be done.

While my time on harvest isn’t over yet, I couldn’t help but feel the relief of harvest in Pierre being completed. In years past, the end of Pierre’s harvest marked the end of my time with the crew. Every person differs on the feelings they have when harvest is over, but for me, it’s relief mixed with an unquenchable hunger, one that keeps me coming back year after year. That hunger reminds me that I’m a harvester, whether I’m running the tractor and grain cart or tagging along with the tech van crew on service calls. There is a passion that goes along with harvest. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than looking over a field of golden wheat stubble and knowing that you’ve done your part in feeding the world.

We all play our roles, but it takes a special breed to gamble on the harvest run. Custom harvesters drive thousands of miles, hauling machines that cost more than many houses, just to harvest a crop that may or may not be there when they arrive. Harvesters battle weather, breakdowns, fuel costs, lost family time, uncomfortable camper beds, and lots of fast food lunches, but they keep doing it year after year. And that’s something we should all be thankful for.

How do you show your appreciation to your customers, employees and service technicians?

The AGCO Parts Tech Van crew in Billings, MT shows off their Gleaner gear from Ag World Equipment.

Speaking of appreciation, the AGCO Parts Tech Van crew would like to thank James Cook from Ag World Equipment in Kinistino, Saskatchewan, Canada for our awesome Gleaner Super Series t-shirts. I delivered them to the tech van crew in Billings, MT on Saturday, and they were very excited to show them off.

The tech van located in Pierre moved to Bismarck, ND on Monday, August 8 and will be located at the Butler Machinery Company throughout the rest of wheat harvest.