Unlike the Midwest where wheat farmers often depend on independent combine crews to harvest their fields, most farmers in Eastern Washington own their own combines—or two or three—in order to be as efficient as possible.

Getting the crop in the bin is the last step in a long process with a fickle partner: Mother Nature.
Occasionally, when rain falls during harvest, wheat kernels begin to germinate while standing in the field. If the rain continues long enough, this can lead to pre-harvest sprout and result in stiff discounts. That’s why speed is of the essence during harvest.
Combines and tractors working on the wheat field

In Eastern Washington, harvest starts in early July in the driest areas and can continue through September 15.

In the rolling hills of the Palouse, farmers use “hillside” combines which have been retrofitted with adjustable headers that permit harvesting steep slopes. Although some farmers have home storage and others take their wheat directly to the river upon harvest for transportation by barge to export locations, most wheat is moved to grain elevators where it is stored until sold.

Small grain trucks were once used to move wheat from field to storage, but with today's largers farms, it is now a common sight to see tractor trailers being loaded in fields.

Bank-out wagons have also become ubiquitous. Pulled by tractors, bank-out wagons hold 1,000 or more bushels of grain which is about three times or more the capacity of a combine’s grain tank. Instead of stopping a combine to load a truck, bank-out wagons carry their precious cargo between the combine and trucks, making the process more efficient and therefore less costly.

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