October 20, 2013
Joel Kaler hates it when ears of corn drop off the stalk when the stalk bumps the gathering chain sprockets on the corn head.
It's money lost and extra cost, he says.
Money lost because ears that fall on the ground don't get in the combine. It's estimated that each ear lost per 140 feet of row equals 1 bushel per acre.
It's extra cost because volunteer corn sprouts from the ears that fall on the ground Usually that means an extra spraying trip and another herbicide the following year.
SIMPLE FIX: Joel Kahler holds a wedge shaped Corn Stalk Guide that he designed to mount on plastic corn head snouts to better guide corn stalks into the gathering chain.
"Ear loss would be the highest when the combine operator got a little bit off the row and the stalks would hit the gathering chain sprockets," Kaler says. "The stalks would shake, the ear would come off and hit the snouts and fall onto the ground."
So the Lidgerwood, N.D., farmer set out to do something amount it. Figuring that the stalks needed to be guided past the sprockets, he made wedges out of wood and attached them with screws to the snouts.
By trial and error, Kaler learned what size and shape wedge worked best and where to position them on the snouts.
Then he found a high density poly material -- like that used in the bottom of tandem sugarbeet trucks so the sticky beets slide out the back -- to make the wedges from.
The poly wedges work so well that Kaler found he can even combine across the rows and the stalks will flow into the center and onto the gathering chain. He can combine a 1-2 mph faster, too, without increasing losses.
"All you have to do is get the corn between the snouts and the guides will funnel them in," he says. "You have more room for error."
Last year, Kaler got a patent on the wedges and began marketing his Corn Stalk Guides in earnest. His wife, Jaci, handles the marketing and trade shows. Her brother, Chris Denn is the national sales manager.
The Kalers currently make Corn Stalk Guides for John Deere, Case-New Holland, Claas, Geringhoff, Fantini, Drago, Agsco, Capello, Harvestec, Domonimi, Calmer and JVL corn headers.
The cost is about $900 for a 6-row and $1,200 for an 8-row header. Inset fasteners and mounting instructions are included. It takes about 30 minutes to install a set of Corn Stalk Guides on a header.
Read more about it in the October issue of Dakota Farmer. You can find it the issue online.
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