The first third of harvest, we struggled with combine capacity in corn. We had done everything we knew of to set up the machine properly and be prepared for harvest.
Yes, we do tend to push the front end of harvest. My philosophy is that if we can get it in the combine, then we’re good to go. We thought our capacity problems were due to pushing the harvest window. We just slowed down and kept the machine rolling.
Capacity didn’t improve as harvest progressed. We were making phone calls and double checking the check list. Finally, we called the right guy. He asked us how many straight bars were on the rotor. I didn’t know, but I found out. The answer was zero. He told us a combine set up for corn should have at least four, and he runs eight. Some guys take them out for soybeans, others leave them in.
That was news to us.
Off to the dealership
So we went to the dealership to pick up some of these straight bars. They were at a different location and we would have them in the morning. It wasn’t a 20-minute job, but worth the wait. What a world of difference! The straight bars help separate the grain from leaves and husks before they go out the back of the combine. It was like having a completely different machine.
It only leaves us wondering how many other machines we’ve had that were never set up properly. Maybe it was just crop conditions this year, but the issue was very apparent.
We also learned if you find nightshade while scouting soybeans, take care of it. Nightshade is something I had never really seen before. It is certainly something I never want to see again. This is another lesson to remember about non-GMO crops. Apparently, the chemistry we have been using doesn’t have activity on nightshade.
It’s not that the weed grows big and overtakes everything (though it can get pretty thick) it is the moisture in the berries and foliage. As you harvest the beans every bit of dust begins sticking to the sieves. Once the sieves are covered up, grain just goes right out the back of the combine. The only solution was to wash the machine down from the inside. It isn’t a pleasant job. Trust me I had to do it four times. We even left a portion of the field until the end and harvested after several frosts, to no avail, the machine was caked full again.
If we continue with the non-GMO soybeans, there will be some changes to our herbicide program. We’ve dealt with burcucumber, surely, we can deal with nightshade.
I’m just not sure the premiums are worth the hassle anymore.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.