On a hot July afternoon, custom harvester Kevin Neufeld leads a convoy of combines and a 15-person crew across Colorado on I-25. Neufeld and his crew are in their third month of combining wheat. And they have four months left before they call it a season.

Custom cutters like Neufeld spend more time on a combine in one year than the average farmer does in ten. As a result, they can combine better than many farmers. According to an Iowa State survey of central Iowa corn combine operations, custom operators have fewer field losses than owner-operators.

“They know how to get a combine to perform in the ‘sweet spot,’ where the machine is operating at full capacity and maximum efficiency,” says Tim Baker, executive director of U.S. Custom Harvesters, a nonprofit association of custom harvesters.

And they can do the job faster, too. With their large machines, hauling logistics, and fleet of supporting equipment, they can be in and out in a matter of days instead of the month it might take a farmer.

Farm Industry News caught up with six custom harvesters who are among the best in the business. We asked them how corn and soybean farmers who harvest their own crops can do a better or more efficient job.