You can shoot for a soybean harvest loss of less 1 bushel per acre this year – that's no more than 40 soybean seeds on the ground in a 10 square foot area in the field.
Mark Rosenberg, SDSU Extension agronomy and weed specialist, says the key to minimizing harvest losses is to adjust the combine for crop conditions.
"Check losses periodically in the field," he advises. "Making adjustments are well worth the time."
Harvest losses have run as high as 15% in some field surveys.
Here's a checklist to reduce losses:
•Keep the cutter bar as close to the ground as possible. "The front drum of the feeder should be low enough so that the chain just clears the floor of the feeder house," he says. "If plants are shorter, smaller clearances may be needed between the reel, cutter bar, auger and the feed conveyor chain, to make sure stalks are feeding through the platform."
•Don't drive too fast. Most combines today with platform headers are able to operate without problems at 3 to 4 miles per hour. If you use a row-crop header you can go a little bit faster. However, if you use a rigid platform you can't go as fast as with a platform header or a row-crop header.
•Use a reel speed that is about 10-25% faster than ground speed. If the crop is lodging, run the reel 50% faster than the ground speed.
•Keep the reel axle 6 to 12 inches ahead of the cutter bar and as low as possible. Reel bats should leave beans just as they are cut and the reel depth should be just enough to control the beans.
•Once soybeans are in the combine, the threshing settings are critical to minimizing losses. "Soybean threshing needs to be just aggressive enough to remove beans from pods," Rosenberg says. If bean seeds are small you may need to check air flow. "Air flow may need to be reduced in the cleaning shoe and the openings in chaffer and sieve screens reduced to maintain air speed, yet allow beans to fall through," he says.Source: SDSU