Not all combines come from Kansas

Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune
Greg and Sandy Beck of Malcolm, Iowa enjoy their time together as custom wheat cutters. Their harvest run this year started in Pratt and they don't go anywhere without their special dog, Tug.

PRATT–Every year, teams of wheat harvest crews come to Kansas to bring in the harvest from the nation's bread basket. Crews come to Kansas from states like Texas, Nebraska, Colorado to Iowa, North Dakota, Kansas and even Canada. Many crews make their way down U.S. Highway 281 through Pratt in May as harvest starts in Texas then move their way up through Oklahoma and into Kansas to spread out and bring in the wheat.

Last week Greg and Sandy Beck, a husband and wife crew from Malcolm, Iowa, along with their constant companion "Tug" a miniature pincer started their harvest run in Pratt. When done in Pratt County they will head for the Jetmore area, then move north to Hermingford Neb. and end their run in either South Dakota or North Dakota, depending on the weather, Sandy said.

Making the harvest run is relatively new for the Becks. They started in 2013 and stayed in South Dakota and North Dakota.Their children were grown and out of the house so they decided to give harvesting a try, Greg said.

Outside of harvest, Sandy is an operations manufacturer for a soybean company. She produces many soybean based products including bread, handle bars, glass cleaner, grease cleaner, wheels for fork lifts and roller coasters and more. Greg manufactures pallets.

Before becoming custom harvesters, they raised a lot of pigs. For a time, they were selling 1,000 head a week. The family did all the work with hardly any outside help. They also had crops and raised cattle in Iowa.

Finding customers has always been the hardest part of the job. They used to start their harvest run in Vernon, Texas. But over the years, their customers in Texas were gone. One customer died, another switched to livestock and another planted everything to grass. So they decided to start in Kansas and not deal with finding new customers.

The Becks started this years harvest in Pratt on June 15, working for Gary Barker. Harvest was going pretty good with moisture at 12 percent and wheat at 63 pounds a bushel with the benchmark at 60 pounds. Recent rain storms have caused delays in finishing cutting wheat.

Greg said he loves farming and enjoys meeting the people along the way. That is why he likes going on the harvest run.

"It gets in your blood. Every year its different," Greg said. "It's just something that grows on you."