For any farm, harvest time is one of the most important events on the calendar. It’s also one of the hardest jobs that will need doing all year, with long hours, lack of sleep and some old-fashioned hard labour to get things done.
Poor planning can lead to mistakes and wasted time, as well as the risk of losing money. We have put together a few easy to follow pointers that will help to ensure you are on the right track from the start.
Don’t leave it to the last minute to service your equipment. If you only have limited days and hours to harvest, or bad weather to work around, you can’t afford to waste time on fixing broken machinery.
Go over all of your trucks, combine harvesters and tractors in advance to make sure they are running well and are ready to go.
If harvesting away from your farm, look into the best ways to transport your loads without causing problems on the road. Review the highway laws so that you can be sure of any vehicle size limits and rules that you may have to abide by. Also, factor in any roadworks that you will need to avoid and plan your route around any small country lanes if possible.
Prepare a sign for the back of the vehicle, so that other road users are aware you will be driving slowly and are carrying heavy loads. Having flashing lights and signals will also help other drivers to navigate their way around you.
It is important to time your harvest just right, not too early and not too late. This will help to ensure that your harvest is in the best condition possible and won’t spoil easily.
Depending on what you are growing, check soil and moisture levels, as this can help you to determine whether or not it is ready.
Harvesting is one of the busiest and most strenuous times on a farming calendar, something that can rarely be done alone. In advance of your planned harvest date, look for some seasonal help that you can train and then trust to assist you.
This will enable you to take a step back and manage what needs to be done, rather than trying to do everything yourself, which can be dangerous and exhausting.
Take stock of everything that you pick and plough as you go. It will be much more difficult to keep track if you try to do it at a later stage. It will also allow you to see what areas and crops were more successful than others, allowing you to make early decisions on what you can grow next year.
As you leave each field empty after your harvest, try to go back over the area and leave it in a good condition, ready for next year. This will save you so much time and energy in the long run, giving the soil time to re-nourish and prepare itself for the next task.