There’s an old saying “make hay while the sun shines,” also known as the famous song “We’ll Make Hay While the Sun Shines” by Bing Crosby.
Farmers would spend days cutting and drying hay to be stored before the Sun goes down. Today farmers don’t stop just because the “Sun went to sleep.” Today’s farmers “make hay while the moon shines.” Why is that?
Why Do Farmers Work At Night?
Most farmers want to keep ahead of the weather, catch up with the workload, and just get the job done. Harvest, equipment transportation, maintenance, and pesticide application are also made at night because of high temperatures during the day that are equally damaging for humans and crops.
Overall productivity increases based on night work which means a lot for field workers trying to cut as many expenses as possible.
Farming at night – A closer look
Many vineyard activities, sweet corn, tomatoes, melon, onions, and garlic harvest are done purposely during the night instead of the long and hot sunny days.
Some researchers say that working during the night has a positive effect on the production of higher-quality grapes.
A team of German scientists has shown that farmers can reduce the amount of herbicide used while working at night. Land plowed in the darkness grew five times fewer weeds compared with those plowed during the day, where wheat showed the best results with no need for herbicide as there was no weed to destroy.
Working during the night has its disadvantages too. Night can bring considerable danger that puts agriculture workers at risks, such as limited visibility due to poor lighting or fatigue, leading to trips, falls, or collisions.
Roads become much more dangerous during the night for farmers and farm machinery, plus night animals aren’t a joke either.
Why do farmers harvest corn at night?
Most of us eat canned corn, not even realizing the long way from growing them, harvesting them, and buying them from the shelf in our favorite shop.
Most farmers harvest corn early in the morning or at night. You know the day has come when corn stalks are taller than you and silks are brown and shriveled.
Late summer and early autumn bring high temperatures, pushing farmers to work early in the morning or at night.
Most of the farmers prefer to harvest at night when it’s cooler. Also, corn is cooler at night, and it takes less effort to get the heat out of them. This also makes it easier for corn to be packed and boxed up right after.
Do Farmers Harvest 24/7?
Even though it might seem that farmers work constantly, they don’t work 24/7 as it wouldn’t be possible to do so, at least not in the long run. They work extremely hard during harvest, but the human body has its limits.
Also, some crops cannot be wet, and they can’t be broken down if not dry. It becomes tougher during the night because of humidity, and it will not go through the combine.
This doesn’t happen on windy and dry nights, though, where the night shift takes its turn but again, we all need to sleep eventually. The same goes for farmers and their workers.
Farmers will preferably work early in the morning and probably during the night, depending on the actual work and temperatures during the day but not 24/7.
Harvest is a long process that requires your full attention, and overdoing the hours brings more harm than good.
Why do farmers start working so early in the day?
It is actually a misconception that all farmers work really early in the day. Because of the lack of electricity, they did so before using daylight to get most of the work done.
Also, dairy farmers would start (and still do) their day early, and cows would get milked at evenly spaced times (around 12 hours) each day, mostly 5 am and 5 pm, so farmers would have time to do other jobs too.
Even though a significant number of farmers start the day quite early, some of the farmers actually prefer to work late at night and would begin at 7 pm. The reason for both is high temperature and sunny days that bring tiredness and other potential health risks.
On the other hand, the north doesn’t have as much heat as California or Florida, so some farmers start their work after 7 am.
What hours do farmers work?
Most farmers and other agricultural workers work full-time, and many works more than the usual 40 hours per week.
For some, farm work is often seasonal, and the number of hours would change according to the season but also according to what type of farm work is actually done.
During the harvest, farmers can work as many as 80 hours a week (including night work), and in the winter, they may work less than 40 hours a week. The annual average for most would be slightly more than 50 hours per week which is plenty.
Do farmers get days off?
For some, farm work is seasonal, and for others, it’s everyday work, especially if you own your own business. Farmers can get more days off during the wintertime, but that is really a personal decision for most.
Many farmers work every day without a day off, but in the minds of many farmers, their conception of work is different as they don’t see this as work, but more as a life mission. My grandfather always says being outdoors surrounded by animals is worth more than a million days off.
Grain farmers of corn and soybeans, for example, can have more time off during winter, and those working with animals need to arrange for someone to cover for them while they are off.
Do farmers take vacations?
Taking vacations for farmers really depends on the size and operation of their business and, of course, the seasonality of the crops they grow.
Dairy farmers have to milk cows at least twice a day, all year round. In order for them to book a vacation, they have to have someone to cover for them.
The simple answer is yes, farmers take vacations when time allows, but they don’t take vacations as often as 9-5 workers.
Do farmers make a lot of money?
You know the saying, if the harvest is good, the money is good. Farmers can make good money farming but then again, what is a lot of money?
If the business is good and successful, it will bring money like any other. Many farmers don’t just live from harvest to harvest; they will find other ways to make money, such as selling wheat, straw for bedding, or raising hay to feed cattle and other fruits of their hard work.
But not everyone will survive in this market as farmers can be vulnerable to economic risks, and their business depends on good weather too.
The average net worth of U.S. farms is over a quarter of a million dollars, and a farmer’s salary depends on how well the crops do, the operational costs of running the business, wages for other workers, and so on.
It can be anything between $35,000 and $125,000, sometimes even more, with an average salary of more than $66,360 in a year.
Jack is the owner, chief editor, and senior writer of this website.
Machinery, engines, and farming have always been a passion of his since he was a young boy. Growing up on a small farm in rural America, he learned the value of hard work and dedication from an early age.
After completing his degree in Engineering, he decided to follow his dream and became a farmer in 2009.
Since then, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. He has grown a variety of crops, tended to farm animals, and worked with all sorts of farming machinery. Continue reading…