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Early harvest indicates mixed bag on yields

Combine calibration, weather, delays start to this year’s late harvest.

We finally got a start on corn harvest last week. I was all set to give you a brief report on yields until we found out the combine calibration didn’t hold true. It took a few days to get over the disappointment, but the scales don’t lie.

We’ve only harvested two complete fields, so it’s hard to give perspective. However, when compared to the last time those fields were in corn, the irrigated field was insignificantly higher than 2017, while the dryland field was 19% lower.

We were preparing to cut beans late last week when a few combine maintenance issues delayed us long enough for the rain to begin to fall. Fall it did -- we had between 3 and 4 inches over the weekend while others nearby had up to 8 inches.

We are still anxious to get in the fields and see what is there. If we can slip through Thursday morning without rain, I’ll probably try it in the afternoon.

How we check yields

So, back to the calibration. Since we have separate operations as well as landlord shares, we have a series of checks and balances to make sure everything is correct and bushels are divvied out to the proper place.

First, we have the combine monitor. This is the least reliable, but we try to calibrate (or check) it every time we change hybrids.

Second, we have the grain cart scale. Our scale has an autolog feature which automatically records each time the unload is engaged. In addition to the computer record, the cart driver manually records the weights into a carbon copy log book. Carbon copies are brought home nightly.

The grain cart scale accuracy is checked with commercial truck scales several times during the year, specifically when we are harvesting shares. The grain cart scale is always within half a percent.

Finally, we have another log at the dump. In this notebook we record the field, time, and truck, when it arrives. Moisture is also recorded in this log.

Going forward, I am going to also add the requirement to have a check strip in each field. This will make sure our combine calibration is correct.

As far as the corn we picked, it is all gone. We hauled it away as fast as we could to take advantage of some quick delivery bids. We’ve run out of corn that’s ready to pick and quick ship bids are falling off rapidly.

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