Your grandpa didn't have the luxury of pushing a button to change the setting on the stripper plates on his cornhead. He had to be darn sure he really wanted to change the setting, and that it would work best across most of the field. If he guessed wrong, he would find himself resetting the stripper plates on each row of the corn head again.
That meant painstaking work, using wrenches to loosen bolts, then repositioning the plates, and tightening them, back up. When something isn't easy to do, it's not as likely to happen. If it's something that can affect field losses and net profit. Then perhaps it's worth looking for a better way.
Adjustable stripper plates are one answer. When ears are small, due to either dry weather, flooding early, or nitrogen losses, all three of which occurred this year, sometimes in the same field, than you can move the plates in to make sure smaller ears aren't lost by dropping through. Narrowing up stripper plates also prevents butt shelling when corn is extremely dry.
Corn as dry as 12% was reported by mid-September in Indiana. Even if your corn isn't that dry, shelling at the head can contribute to yield losses. Ag engineers who study grain loss typically say that two kernels per square foot represent one bushel per acre of loss. A whole ear that slips through, unless it's a nubbin, found in one-one-thousandth of an acre is also one bushel per acre.
The new Oxbo corn head features a system that allows stripper plates on both sides of the row to adjust, spokespersons say. You can adjust their system from the cab as well. If corn isn't as dry in part of the field, if stalks are bigger, or if ears are larger, you can widen the stripper plate settings, all from the convenience of the cab. You don't have to muddle through changing the setting on every row with wrenches, as is still necessary on some older heads.
If you haven't adjusted your stripper plates yet this season, whether they adjust hydraulically or not, you might want to run the combine into the field for a bit, then back up about 20 feet. Throw down a wooden frame square where the cornhead has run, but where the rear of the combine hasn't yet passes. Two kernels per square foot equal one bushel per acre. If part of that is coming at the head, adjusting the stripper plates may be the place to start to improve yields.