Monday, November 5, 2012

Roland Harvesting

Today we welcome Megan Roland from Roland Harvesting as she tells about growing up in a custom harvesting family.

Growing up in a family harvesting business, I was raised with a deep appre­ciation for agriculture and its beginnings. My family has many interesting ties in agri­culture, as I had ancestors who homesteaded in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, to relatives who farmed in Iowa.

The origin of Roland Harvesting traces back to my grandfather, Robert Roland. After serving in World War II he followed the wheat harvest for a couple sea­sons and was able to experience the life of a harvester. My father, Alan Roland, recalls hearing several of my grandfather’s intriguing stories about the harvest adventures he had experienced. It is these stories that sparked my dad’s initial interest in harvest. 

Brandon & James work on setting the combine.

In 1978, my father graduated top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanized Agriculture degree from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. During the summer of 1978 he returned to the family farm in Hemingford, Neb., and purchased his first combine, a New Hol­land TR ‘70, and harvested crops near his home area while working with a local custom harvester. Dad purchased his second New Holland TR ‘70 combine in 1979 and started to head south on harvest with the help of a small crew.
Every harvester needs the essentials. 

In 1983, my mother, Loretta, married my father and joined the harvesting business, and she accom­panied him on the road to follow the wheat harvest for many summers. A few years later our family was started, beginning with my older sister, Ashley, followed by me and my younger brother, Brandon. We were all raised on our family farm located near Hemingford and have been involved in our harvest­ing operation from birth. My siblings and I learned responsibility and work ethic at a young age. We spent countless hours riding in vehicles and combine cabs, and as we got older we have driven consider­ably more. Harvest is always an adventure and it is a way of life for my entire family.

Every summer Roland Harvesting begins our season by heading south to Texas; we gradually work our way north through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and back to Hemingford as we follow the wheat harvest. In August, we travel to Wyoming and Idaho to harvest malting barley for Coors and Anheuser Busch. During the end of August, much of the crew is lost as many of us return to college. The season is finally finished by my parents in the late fall with corn, bean, and sunflower harvest in the Panhandle of Nebraska. 

Even on the road we sometimes get opportunities to see things off the harvest trail.
This was taken at Old Faithful in Wyoming. 

Roland Harvesting is currently operating two CR 9070 New Holland combines with 36-foot draper headers. In fact, Roland Harvesting has proudly owned and operated New Holland twin rotor com­bines for over 30 years. In addition, we have three semis and grain trailers to haul the grain. A tractor and grain cart are also usually brought on the road to help with the harvest, along with two service trucks that assist with maintenance of the machin­ery. We also have a TR ’98 combine that we usually keep at the farm to help out with home harvest or to take on the road if we need to split the crew.

Our crew is primarily made up of family with some hired help but it varies from year to year. In years past, Ashley was one of the main combine operators on the crew, but since she graduated from college last year and is now in the “real world,” she is no longer able to join us for the full run. However, Ashley and my brother-in-law, Kurt, are able to meet up with us and help out during the week­ends when we get closer to home. My mom has spent many years on harvest in the past, but she now mostly stays busy at home to help take care of all the family farming operations as well as do all the necessary bookkeeping for the harvest business. My parents constantly remind me that Roland Harvest­ing would not have been successful without the help and support of extended family members and loyal customers throughout the years. Our extended fam­ily continues to be very important assets within our harvesting business as they are always willing to help when needed. 

Cutting wheat - it's our life. 

Our main crew consists of Dad, Brandon, James, Jason and me. Overall, Dad and Brandon continue to lead our harvesting business, although since we have a smaller sized family opera­tion most of our tasks and jobs overlap a fair amount. Dad and Brandon typically operate the combines, while James and Jason drive truck and haul the grain into the elevators. Jason is our excellent head mechanic and is showing James all the “ins and outs” about all the equipment. Our entire crew is also skilled in operating combines and everyone has a Class A CDL and is capable of driving semis and hauling equipment.
Being a part of All Aboard mean telling our story right from the wheat field.
I find time in between jobs to get my latest post up.

With Brandon being my 20-year-old brother and James being our 21-year-old cousin, and me just a year older, we have quite the young energetic spark within our group. Brandon has turned into an outstanding combine operator and is even beginning to polish up his new profound “boss skills.” James also grew up around harvest but this is his first year joining the crew down south.

I typically oper­ate the grain cart as well as help run combine and drive truck as needed. In addition, I carry out my duties of the job I have been dubbed—“Supply and Distribution Manager."
Dad and I in an Oklahoma wheat field.

Harvest is a very important aspect of our entire family’s lives and has provided countless memories, adventures and experiences. We like to think of harvesters as the last inhabitants of the frontier. Following in our ancestors footsteps, we continually move with the land in an attempt to make a living. Follow us, and the wheat harvest at

Thanks for the great feature Megan! You can read more about Roland Harvesting on their website and facebook page. You can check out more harvest stories and family businesses at, and on their facebook page and twitter