Soybean harvest

Combine adjustments no match for lodged beans

There is no sense growing the crop if we can’t get it harvested.

Well, last week I thought we had figured out this second combine business. A competitive brand salesman had called with a reasonable offer to rent/lease their machine for 100 hours. The offer included a draper, and though they didn’t have a chopping corn head, we came to terms on a corn head which we estimated would get 30 hours of use. (We prefer our cornstalks chopped with the head, but we could make do on a few acres)

Everything went well. The equipment arrived Friday. Their men were here to offload the machine, set it up, and get it going. I received a quick lesson and put the machine to work.

Soybeans are lodging
This year, many of the soybeans are lodged due to excessive August rains. It’s not uncommon to have lodged beans, but this year it is worse than most. I find this a bit surprising especially since we dropped our planting population 15,000 to 140,000 plants per acres.

Besides seed cost reduction, I thought this would help reduce lodging. University research had shown we could plant less plants and get the same yields, and thus far I would agree.

Anyway, it didn’t take long to figure out I was having difficulty bringing some of the down crop into the combine. I ran a couple hours that evening, getting used to the machine. In the morning I made some adjustments to the head and checked things over. Everything seemed okay. Saturday, the company was to bring me a supply of common use parts such as sickle sections, guards, etc. I was having no better luck with the head. The chopper belt also shredded. They were ‘Jonny on the spot’. They came, replaced the belt, and made further adjustments to the head. Again, I ran a couple of hours that evening. It was working a bit better, and I had hopes it was going to work out.

Sunday evening it rained about .3 inches. Monday, we took our machine (which had also been running soybeans) and switched it back to corn and went to work. As the day went on, winds picked up and I moved the rental to the next farm and began working. All I had was trouble. The head pushed, and pushed some more. I adjusted the height, the tilt, the pressure. Every combination I could come up with. The same result. Once again, I ran a couple (very frustrating) hours. I was ready to call it quits.

Tuesday morning, after cooling off, I was optimistic once again. I tried changing some more settings the service tech recommended. That was short lived - I didn’t even make it the length of the field before calling for our combine to be switched over for beans.

The company tried their best, but it just didn’t work out. We sent the machine back and once again are shopping for a combine. I can’t fault their efforts. The machine itself did fine threshing. It might even have a little more capacity than our combine. The cab was a bit louder though, and it would take some getting used to the controls. The problem was the draper head. There is no sense in growing the crop if we can’t get it harvested.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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