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New Holland combine harvesting beans Tom J. Bechman
READY TO RUN: Combine experts say this will be a good year to check out settings for harvesting soybeans with green stems and perhaps some green pods.

Prepare to harvest high-moisture beans, frosted crops

Here are tips to help you prepare for a tough harvest, including where you can go to learn more.

Better safe than sorry. It’s part of the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” strategy for the 2019 harvest.

Farm Progress invited makers of several major brands of combines to share specific tips for getting their combines ready for fall 2019. Here is advice for harvesting high-moisture soybeans and crops damaged by frost. Combine specialists providing information include: Zach Stejskal, combine marketing specialist for Agco Gleaner; Kelly Kravig, harvesting marketing manager for Case IH; Jeff Gray, product manager and field support specialist for Claas Lexion combines; Matt Badding, marketing manager for combines and headers for John Deere; and J. Cole Sanford, cash crops marketing specialist for the northeast region for New Holland Agriculture.

Are there special adjustments if soybeans are 16% or higher moisture?

Agco Gleaner: One recommendation is to increase rotor speed to ensure threshing of the pods. Another recommendation is to reduce bottom sieve clearance and run slightly higher returns to re-thresh tough, rubbery pods. It’s important to diagnose where loss is occurring, such as at the rotor and/or shoe, so proper settings can be adjusted.

Case IH: Start with three questions. Are plants standing? What are beans like in the pods — is it dry enough to thresh beans out of the pods? How tough and rope-like are stems?

The best strategy is to start with preset conditions for bean harvest, and then tweak individual settings. Remember, most threshing occurs in the first half of the cage. You may want to set the back half of the vanes in the downward position to move green stems out of the machine faster. Pay attention to how well the machine is threshing, separating and cleaning.

Claas Lexion: Adjust Lexion’s dual separation rotors to improve separation performance without overthreshing the crop. Also, close one or both rotor cover plates to intensify separation and glean remaining beans out of tough, green stems without using excessive separation speed. Rotor cover plates are hydraulic and controlled from the cab, preventing downtime to set. 

You can also change the preconcave grates from round bar to key-stock to improve threshing of tougher stems and pods. This is an easy 15-minute job, accessible right through Lexion’s rock trap.

John Deere: Expect greener stems and pods than usual. Make sure material going out the rear is threshed and spread properly. If you have green stems and dry beans, you may need to increase rotor speed 100 rpm. Also, pay attention to concave adjustment. If you’re getting lots of splits or the opposite — whole pods coming through — make appropriate adjustments.

Take time to get out and measure losses. If you have a draper head, run the reel up and out versus down and back this year. Set reel speed just a touch faster than ground speed.

New Holland: For higher-moisture soybeans, the operator can influence New Holland’s combine settings automation system, called IntelliSense, by pressing the “unthreshed grain” button on the threshing losses or MOG pop-up menu. MOG stands for “material other than grain.” This tells IntelliSense a harder threshing condition exists. The combine automatically operates in a higher rotor rpm range and will also decrease the Dynamic Flow Control vane angle operating range.

More rotor speed will help produce more combine productivity as well as improve threshing quality. Typical of New Holland CR Revelation Series combines with gentle threshing, you will see “lima beans” in the tank. Those are green soybean kernels threshed out of tough, green pods. For machines without IntelliSense, an excellent rule of thumb is “rotor speed is king.” Increase twin-rotor rpm speed until there are visible cracks in soybeans; then lower rpm slightly to remove those cracks. This will improve threshing and throughput.

What can you do if you’re harvesting corn or beans damaged by frost?

Agco Gleaner: To manage damage to grain quality, adjust rotor speed down and open concave clearance to provide a gentle thresh. If you see higher amounts of rotor loss, and/or partial thresh, begin increasing rotor speed in small increments or reducing concave clearance in small increments.

After all settings adjustments have been made, and desired performance hasn’t been achieved, contact your local dealer and inquire about mechanical changes to your rotor configuration to improve performance in this condition.

The natural flow-feeding style of the transverse Gleaner delivers excellent grain quality, thanks in large part to not having to redirect crop flow, minimizing grain damage.

Case IH: Frost damage compromises integrity of the crop. Moisture will be higher. It’s a unique challenge, but you have tools. Pull the operator’s manual out and become familiar with threshing and separating settings.

With frosted corn, expect spongy cobs. Speed up or slow down rotor speed as necessary, change concave clearance, and adjust vane settings. Vane settings control the speed at which material feeds through the cage. On older combines you can adjust vanes by loosening a couple bolts. On the new 250 Series, you have in-cab control for adjusting vanes.

Here’s the bottom line. This might not be the year when you can just set the machine and drive. Continue to ask yourself if you need to adjust things.

Claas Lexion: For soybeans, follow the same procedures outlined for harvesting high-moisture soybeans. For corn, we recommend the same procedures as for harvesting 30% corn.

That includes increasing threshing speed in 10-rpm increments. The concave gap may need to be opened to compensate. If so, always adjust in 1- to 2-millimeter increments. 

You may be dealing with softer cobs which break more easily and challenge threshing performance.  Set concave according to cob diameter to keep cob damage to a minimum.   

Claas LexionLexion combine harvesting beans

MAINTENANCE A MUST: Performing regular maintenance will be critical for combines faced with challenging harvest conditions.

John Deere: Use the “power shutdown” method described in the operator’s manual to check performance in these conditions. Shut off the separator and turn off the machine. Take off shields and look inside and compare to what you would expect in normal conditions. Then adjust from there. Don’t worry; I’ve done it many times and have yet to plug a machine.

New Holland: In a frost situation, likely a premature death of the crop results. IntelliSense will understand what grain cracks look like via the “intelligent” grain camera and will react as necessary to preserve the grain sample. The likely result is lower rotor speed and a medium to fast twin-rotor vane angle. Again, these actions are automated based on what the combine is seeing via the IntelliSense self-setting system.

Where can producers get more information or support in these special cases?

Agco Cleaner: Contact your local dealer. They’re the experts in your conditions and are fully supported by Agco. Also, there are many resources at, including a settings guide to assist you.

Case IH: One of your best supporting tools is that operator’s manual. Get it out and become familiar with it.

Claas Lexion: Contact your local Claas Lexion dealer, or visit

John Deere: Almost everything you need to know is in the operator’s manual. You can also download the Goharvest app at It’s a quick reference guide and contains information on harvesting high-moisture corn. The Interactive Combine Adjustment tool is available on late S600 Series and all S700 Series machines to help simplify adjustments.

New Holland: For product information, visit this combine web page. More information is available on New Holland’s social media page by searching “New Holland Agriculture.” Via, you can search for your local dealer. We also have an app available for initial settings as well as diagnosing your current settings. Search “New Holland Harvest Excellence” at the Apple or Google app stores to download this useful app.

TAGS: Harvest
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