Is this the biggest ‘harvesting’ contractor?

A contractor (custom harvester) and farming enterprise in the US – Olsen Custom Farms – has just bought its 500th John Deere combine harvester.

The Quad-City Times reported that Olsen Custom Farms – based in the state of Minnesota – took delivery of the machine at a factory visit this month. The factory in question is John Deere’s ‘Harvester Works’ in East Moline.

Olsen’s team cuts between 600,000 and 700,000ac of crops each year. The team works across a huge swath of North America – stretching from Texas right up into Canada.

The company is run by Chad Olsen; he has a quarter of a century of experience in the business under his belt.

Olsen Custom Farms

According to the Quad-City Times, Olsen himself climbed into the cab of the new John Deere combine as it moved along the manufacturing line – during the factory visit.

It was apparently the first time that Olsen accepted the honour of starting his new combine, as part of the plant’s ‘Gold Key Tour’. “Usually I let the employees do it,” he was reported as saying.

I can walk out of my shop anytime and start a combine.

As he tested the machine’s operating systems – a process repeated by Deere’s quality team, Olsen reportedly had an entourage of 28 family members and Olsen Custom Farms’ employees with him – to mark the hand-over of the 500th harvester.

This 500th machine is apparently part of an order of 13 combines and eight pieces of front-end equipment that John Deere is supplying to the company – in this order alone. By the close of 2018, it is anticipated that Olsen will have taken delivery of 34 new combines this year – all from John Deere.

At the moment, Olsen Custom Farms runs a fleet that numbers 75 combine harvesters.

With regular and frequent replacement, it is easy to see how the company has purchased 500 combines over the course of several decades.

Olsen Custom Farms

This year, Olsen expects the “heavy lifting” associated with a nationwide harvesting campaign to begin in April. That’s when many of the new machines are shipped and prepared for the mammoth task that lies ahead. Cutting then typically begins in mid-May or the start of June.

The range of crops to be harvested is significant; included in the mix are wheat, canola, barley, corn, mustard, beans and sunflowers.

According to the Quad-City Times, the business, which now employs up to 70 during peak harvest, began with “a worn-out combine” in 1993. During the following ten years, it grew to a fleet of 21 combines, four grain carts, four service trucks and 13 semis (articulated trucks). It has since, of course, developed into an even larger operation.