As workplaces go, the cab of a combine seems pretty nice. It’s cooled in the summer, sits above the dust, and the machine runs nearly automatically when it uses GPS.
That’s good because the custom cutters, who are holding their convention at Century II, basically live in them for months.
About 600 harvesters and the vendors that sell to them are in Wichita as part of the U.S. Custom Harvesters annual convention.
It’s the off-season for cutting crews. They have time to catch up on the latest in farm machinery, rules affecting temporary agricultural workers, tips for running a family business – and, of course, reaching out and touching a lot of farm machinery.
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Custom cutter Taff Hughes visited Kansas as an exchange student from Wales, fell in love with the place and emigrated.
Today, he owns Hughes Harvesting of Ellinwood, as well as a sizable number of combines, tractors and trucks.
He and his crew start cutting winter wheat in Texas in mid-May and finish near the Canadian border in September. When that’s done, he hauls his equipment back to Kansas and spends the fall cutting corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. By November, he’s done.
“I love the run,” he said. “I’ve been enthralled by equipment and really like running the business and the traveling. I’m living the dream.”