Meet the Travelers Who Harvest Your Food Across America
Custom Harvesters Answer the Call to Help Farmers This Season
Although custom harvesting may not be well-known outside farming, its work is essential to the survival of countless farms across the United States.
Custom harvest teams travel the U.S. almost year-round, owning anywhere from one to sixty combines to help farmers who don’t have the time, labor, or resources to harvest their crops themselves.
Mike Veith, a custom harvester based in Amarillo, Texas, knows all too well how hard it is to for farmers to find people to work on their farms. Custom harvesting teams provide a solution for farmers, enabling them to focus on other aspects of their business. “We supply that turn-key,” he said. “And by and large, we’ve had really good luck.”
And it’s not just luck that makes these crews successful. They’re dedicated, hardworking, and willing to travel thousands of miles to get the job done.
Starting in Central Texas cutting wheat in May, custom harvest crews make their way up to the Canadian border throughout the summer and early fall. They stop along the way to harvest crops like chickpeas, lentils, and wheat that get sold to local grocery stores. Crews of workers, with their spouses and children, live in RVs, traveling with their combines in tow.
Karly Cherney is another custom harvester who has almost three decades of experience in this field, starting at the age of four. Now in her 27th year harvesting, she and her husband, Chris, have seen tremendous changes in the industry, thanks to technological advancements, such as auto-steering.
“We used to stop and eat every meal, but now with auto-steering, we don’t stop combines anymore. That’ saves us a lot of time,” Chris said, emphasizing the importance of these innovations in making the job more efficient.