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As I transition from a DSM in Central Alberta to a DSM/RSM for the US Pacific Northwest, it is evident that the 49th parallel does in-fact make a change in how harvest is done!
Maybe not how, as the swathers and combines still roll on either side of the border, but the amount of custom work on the USA side, in Montana especially, is quite substantial compared to what we would see in central Alberta. As I traveled Montana and Idaho over the last month with the intent of some seat-time in the combine with potential customers, I marveled at the number of farms that were being harvested by custom combine crews, or “custom cutters” as they are known in the industry. More often than not if I saw a group of combines rolling and stopped in to visit the farmer or land owner, I was greeted by a grain-cart driver or foreman of a crew of custom operators. Of 6 farms I stopped at, only one was being harvested by the actual land owner. Maybe beginners luck, but If I had to guess based on the 3900 miles put on in the 2 states over the month, my guess is 70% of the acres were being harvested by custom crews. Some from as far south as Texas, with others from Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and the Dakota’s. Logistics must not work for the custom crews to come as far north as my current home base being in Edmonton Alberta. Of the crews I talked to, none of them had ever harvested in Canada… yet! Our season is just too late, and so much of our crop is ready all at once? Hmmm… Food for thought!