Tomatoes

The road I travel from work runs along the river. The fields on either side are mostly planted to corn and soybeans. Over the years however potatoes, green beans, parsnips, sunflowers, and tomatoes have also been grown and harvested there. Last year’s tomato crop was a bust. We had a good deal of rain at harvest and many fields had standing water. The mature crops had little chance to dry and farmers couldn’t have gotten to them, across the saturated soils, in any case. We watched as acres of tomatoes spoiled, rotted, and were eventually tilled in. This year has been very different. These same acres were planted, in early spring, to thousands upon thousands of seedlings. The growing season was fine with both rain and dry weather in good measure. Two weeks ago I noticed that flatbed bins had been staged by the side of the road. Early last week I was surprised that half of one of the largest fields had been harvested between the time I passed it in the early morning and when I passed it again on my way home. Then the rains returned and the bins, harvester, and tractors sat … until yesterday. I stopped for a while to watch as one very large tractor pulled a flatbed alongside the harvester which was itself being dragged by another mammoth machine. It was quite something to watch row after row of vines being consumed by the harvester. Beautiful red fruits were separated from their supporting vines which were then cast aside. A belt emerged from the chamber within which fruit were collected and this moved the tomatoes past the watchful eyes of a half dozen workers who separated rocks and green fruit from the rapidly moving harvest (which would be made into sauce, I believe).  Once past the screening the fruit were then conveyed to a flatbed bin which followed along side. The field was being harvested so rapidly that at least one bin was always waiting for a driver, this made for some colorful images.

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