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Wheat People - Part 2

Rick Ladd and Jeff Moeckel ready a combine for harvest,  Plevna, 1998.Celebrating Kansas Harvest

Gearing Up

Each May and June, entire communities in Kansas gear up for harvest. It affects everyone.

"You go over the combine with a grease gun for the hundredth time,and wait."
--Grant Heilman, Wheat Country, 1977

The Dreiers move their combine to an uncut field, another early morning harvest practice, Hesston, 1998.During the weeks preceding wheat harvest, mechanics work long hours overhauling combines, tractors, and trucks. Food flies off grocers' shelves as farmers stock up on supplies. Local teenagers take jobs with area farmers and elevators. Excitement builds as townspeople gather at cafes to discuss the wheat's ripeness and the weather forecast.

Most equipment supply stores extend their hours so farmers can buy parts to fix broken machines. Employees work from dawn to dusk with only occasional breaks.

Although combines often can't enter fields until around 11 a.m. because of morning dew, there is plenty of work to be done early in the day. Farmers check oil, water levels, and tire pressure. They add fuel, grease the combines, and make repairs.

Alvin Hoover, Chapman, checks wheat during 1998 harvest.How do you know when to harvest?

"Watch the neighbors."
--Phill Martin, Great Bend, 1998
"When Dad gets the grumpiest."
--Jo Keesling, Chase, 1998
"Thresh out a head, and blow the chaff away, and put it in your mouth and chew. If it cracks and pops, you're ready to cut wheat."
--Virl Moeckel, Plevna, 1998


Wheat People: Celebrating Kansas Harvest is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History.

  1. Wheat History - Corn used to be "King" in Kansas
  2. Gearing Up - Getting ready for harvest
  3. On the Run - Everybody moves quickly
  4. Family - Coming together in the fields
  5. Fast Food - Meals are a social event
  6. Nature - June is a stormy month
  7. To Market, To Market - The local grain elevator
  8. The Season's End - Harvest festivals
  9. Business or Way of Life? - Farming is both

Contact us at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov