Soon after I climbed into the combine cab, I realized something was different about the corn head on this machine. It was a new Case IH corn head. On the outside of the head on both sides, mounted on top of the outside section and running down along the head toward the snouts, was a grooved roller that looked somewhat like a shucking roller.
Both turned at relatively low speed. The farmer I was riding with smiled when I asked him why they were there. He said that if we ran into "pickle vines" I would soon figure it out. We didn't but I can take his word for it after seeing them work.
The "pickle vines" are bur cucumber, a vining weed that grows in many river bottoms within the state, and in other places where it has been transported by equipment or other means. Similar to morningglory in its ability to warp around things, it can cause harvest problems. It can also affect corn yields and how well corn stands if there are enough of them at one location, and if they get a foothold early in the season.
The rollers are deigned to help keep things like those vines from hanging up on the side of the head on both sides, the farmer noted. He assured me that they were effective at doing so.
He also said he liked several other aspects of the new head, including dependability. The only thing he didn't like was the replacement cost for a durable plastic snout. Each snout on the end of the head cost several hundred dollars to replace, he notes.
While plastic added durability, he assured me that it was still quite possible to bust one and need to replace it during the course of harvesting. He was less than thrilled about the high price tag making such a repair could mean.