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Wheat People - Part 3

Combines cut wide swaths through the Crosson fields, Minneapolis, 1998Celebrating Kansas Harvest

On the Run

"It's all kind of done on the run, and you try not to stop any operation."
--Betty Hoover, Chapman, 1998

After weeks of harvest preparations, the tension in a farming community is palpable.

Eventually, one or two nervous farmers begin harvesting even though the wheat is still a little too green. Then the sun gets hotter and the grain gets riper, and suddenly everyone is cutting wheat. Kansas roads quickly fill with trucks carrying wheat to market.

It's an annual spectacle signaling harvest is underway.


"I like the big trucks."--Louanne Short, Assaria, 1998

As combines lumber through the fields, their holding bins fill with wheat and must be emptied. Grain trucks receive the wheat and haul it to local elevators or farm storage bins.

Lee Cox driving a wheat truck, Anthony, 1998Usually waiting near the road, trucks are the harvest newsroom. Neighbors and friends pull over to get updates from the driver, and there's always a water jug inside and the truck's breezy shade outside.

Many women took a more active role on their farms beginning in World War II because of a labor shortage. From 1941 to 1942, the number of Kansas women operating field machinery more than tripled.

Women continued to operate equipment after the war, particularly during harvest. Most of today's combine operators are men, but women truck drivers are a common sight on Kansas roads.


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