Late planting, excessive rains, flood damage and other environmental factors this year have resulted in a range of crop stage development across the area.
For soybean producers, some fields are in late pod-fill while others are just starting harvest. In corn, some fields are starting to dent while others are reaching black layer or full maturity. Several producers in the area are cutting silage while others are finishing their last irrigation of the season.
In the next few weeks, some producers may start harvesting early planted fields. Others that were planted later in the spring will have a delayed harvest this fall. Since harvest will be delayed for many producers this year, they will be working long hours to get the crop in as quickly as possible.
Now is the time to do some safety checks on your equipment to make sure things are running smoothly and to think about other potential hazards on the farm before harvest 2019.
The following is a list of potential hazards or things producers will want to consider before getting busy with fall harvest:
1) When moving equipment, know where the power lines are located to avoid entanglement or electrocution.
2) Make sure grain auger grates and shields are in place to protect your hands and feet.
3) Keep a fire extinguisher in the cab of the grain truck, pickup, tractor, combine or any other piece of equipment during harvest. (You never know when you’ll need one.)
4) Always use a safety prop if you need to work under heavy equipment — especially with hydraulic systems.
5) Shut down machinery for maintenance or to clean the combine if it gets clogged during harvest.
6) Check that headlights, front and rear flashing lights are operating properly.
7) Display reflective “slow moving vehicle” emblems on tractors, combines, grain carts, etc.
8) Have a visible spotter when backing up or moving large equipment to avoid accidents.
9) Use the buddy system when working in the field or moving equipment between fields.
10) Make sure any PTO systems are running properly and NEVER step over one while it is operating.
11) Encourage employees and visiting family members to wear high-visibility clothing to avoid potentially fatal accidents.
12) Wear appropriate fitting clothing that won’t get caught or entangled in moving parts.
13) Have a list of emergency contact numbers in all vehicles, especially if a fire or accident occurs.
14) Harvest time calls for long hours, so take breaks when you get tired and get plenty of sleep at night.
15) Design a safety plan, make sure all employees and family members know the plan, and talk about it frequently.
As harvest is a stressful time of the year for producers, please be patient with farm equipment being moved between fields. Give combine, tractor and truck drivers room if you need to pass or go around them.
If you see a piece of equipment coming down the road, do not pull out in front of them to “beat the traffic.” Loaded equipment takes more time to stop, so pulling out in front of them could cause an accident.
Please do not honk your horn at people moving equipment, especially on the highway. Give yourself a little extra time to get to work in the morning and wave if you have to go around them.
Finally, thank a farmer this harvest season. Producers work long hours and don’t see their family much during harvest, so thank them for their hard work and dedication during the long days ahead.
Sarah Sivits is a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator specializing in cropping systems whose focus region is Dawson, Buffalo and Hall counties.