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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.

Still Time To Learn How To Adjust Combines

Sep 09, 2012

 This year will teach many combine operators the importance of carefully adjusting their machines. Early harvest, occasional rain showers ,and ongoing warm weather have sprouted grain "thrown over" by combines in fields that have already been tilled for next year.

Aside from the pain of seeing $8/bushel corn and $17/bushel soybeans sprouting in harvested fields, there is much to learn by studying the way the sprouts are distributed.

If corn sprouts are roughly following this year's rows, then the losses were probably from the snapping rolls and deck plates. It's not too late to tighten deck plates to prevent the rest of this year's small ears from shelling on the rolls, or passing completely through the rolls.

If the combine is a design where stalks and stems go through the straw chopper while hulls and lighter debris exit off the sieves: a stripe of sprouts the same width as the combine's body hints the losses were coming off the sieves. Adjust sieves to keep grain in while passing small cobs and debris out of the machine.

If all crop material passes through the straw chopper it's tougher to decipher if the losses are from the sieves or coming off the rotor/straw walkers. One hint is that if the sprouts are in clumps, it implies several kernals still attached to the cob are growing. That means the concave was too open or the cylinder/rotor speed was too slow and all the kernels weren't getting threshed off the cobs. BUT--if the concave was so "tight" it was splitting the cobs rather than rolling the kernels off, it can give the same results because split cobs carry their kernels with them out the back of the combine.

I've heard stories from around the state that some early-harvested, early-tilled fields are rapidly turning solid green, as if they were seeded by an airplane or tailgate seeder. Either the combine was really throwing over a lot of high-priced grain, or...the farmer is extremely progressive, on the cutting edge of soil conservation, and is using waste grain to create a cover crop to reduce soil erosion and retain nutrients over the winter. Yeah, as if the neighbors will buy THAT story...

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