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Common Denominators

August 27, 2014
By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal Columnist

Check these five combine areas to improve threshing

Making adjustments to five components common on all of the major combine brands can significantly improve harvest performance.

The angle of the feederhouse "face plate" is relevant in corn, but it’s critical for optimum soybean harvest.

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Slow down straw choppers when harvesting corn, and adjust deflectors and doors to the proper position to prevent damage to sieves by flying cobs.

"The angle of the face plate on the feederhouse determines cutterbar angle [on soybean platforms], and cutterbar angle determines the quality of cut," says Amos Greene, a Case IH service technician at Vetter Equipment in Nevada, Iowa. "Too steep of an angle makes the platform into a rock picker. If the cutterbar is heeled-back, it doesn’t cut close and leaves the bottom pods on the cut-off stems."

On corn heads, face plate angle influences the ability of the head to pick up down corn. "Chopping heads," with spinning blades beneath the row units, benefit if the face plate angle positions the cutting units so they’re tipped slightly forward.

The feederhouse face plate angle depends on the size of front tires, rear tires and other variables. Greene recommends lowering flex-type soybean platforms until the cutterbar is in the middle of its flex range, then visually inspecting to see if the front of the cutterbar is tilted slightly downward. The skid shoes behind the cutterbar should be parallel to the ground with even pressure from front to rear.

Some adjustments, such as the height of the feederhouse conveyor chain drum, are easier to make when the header isn’t attached to the combine. This is convenient, since combine manufacturers uniformly recommend different feederhouse drum heights for corn and small grains.

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Dull, worn straw chopper knives do a poor job cutting and distributing crop residue causing stripes that inhibit emergence and growth of next year’s crops

"The feederhouse drum should be set in the lowest position for small grain and soybeans," Greene says. "It should be raised for corn. If you leave it raised while harvesting beans, the feederhouse conveyor chain doesn’t pull in beans as well. Crop will build up in front of the feederhouse before it finally pulls in a bunch all at once."

Bunch feeding at the feederhouse creates problems throughout the machine. Inconsistent crop flow temporarily overloads the concave, then the sieves, resulting in bursts of "dirty" grain in the grain tank and unthreshed grain out the back of the machine.

"It’s a little hassle to change the feederhouse drum between corn and beans," Greene says. "On Case IH combines there’s a middle setting, and some guys put it there and leave it for all crops. But that’s a compromise. If you want optimum threshing performance, you need to set the drum up for corn and down for beans."

A matter of speed. At the opposite end of the combine, straw choppers and straw spreaders are another commonly misadjusted component on combines. Those systems are universally sped up for beans and small grains and slowed down for corn.

"Some customers leave their straw spreaders on high speed when they harvest corn, which causes problems with cobs getting tossed forward and getting caught in the grooves of [drive belt] pulleys and damaging the belts that run on those pulleys," says Tim Holt, a New Holland service manager at Casady Brothers Implement in  Webster City, Iowa. "We’ve installed shields made out of old belting to keep cobs out of the pulleys, but it’s better to just slow down the spreader."

Proper adjustment of straw chopper speed and straw chopper cutting action influences both this year’s harvest performance and next year’s crop.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - September 2014
RELATED TOPICS: Machinery, Farm Journal, Combines

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