Avoid Costly Setbacks with Yearly Combine Maintenance

November 4, 2015 01:00 PM

Avoid time—and yield—stealing setbacks with end of season combine maintenance. Before you close the shed doors, be sure to perform simple steps to keep your combine in tip-top shape for the next season.

“There is nothing more frustrating than equipment that breaks while sitting in the shed,” says Charles Ellis, University of Missouri association Extension professional and natural resources engineer. “It could be as simple as a mouse that makes a home and chews through wires.”

To dodge expensive breakdowns, perform an end-of-season checklist to do everything in your power to start next season without a hitch.

  1. Do a good job cleaning the combine. Avoid leaving grain as a tasty treat for mice looking for a home by blowing out the machine. In situations you use water to clean it make sure you get it thoroughly dried. An additional benefit of cleaning is potentially reducing the spread of resistant weed seed.
  2. Grease the combine well and run it for a few minutes to get all parts lubed.
  3. Mouse proof each hole and crevasse of the machine. This means get rid of all grain, chaff or anything that a mouse could eat or make a home from.
  4. Before you pack up, run the combine’s fuel system close to empty and seal it up to try to avoid water at the bottom of the tank in humid or wet years. Be mindful of the chance there is water in the fuel tank before starting up next year.
  5. Keep up with yield monitors and mapping. Download all data so you don’t use the entire data chip’s space and lose data in the future.
  6. Be sure to clean filters and check fluids on the combine so it’s not sitting dirty and empty for months at a time.
  7. Make a detailed list of what needs to be looked at and fixed during the winter months. Prioritize each item by importance.

“Stop and write down all things you think didn’t seem right,” says Edwin Brokesh, Kansas State University Extension engineer and instructor for biology and agricultural engineering. “It could be a noise you heard, a glitch you had—something that ought to be inspected. You know your machine best at the end of harvest.”

“There will be days in January and February that you have more time. It’s a great time to start preparation for next harvest,” Brokesh says. Use those days to tackle your list of potential combine issues.

Harvest can be exhausting, but don’t give up on your combine too early. These simple steps can save you headaches in the future.

What do you do before you put the combine away for the year? What is the best step you can take to ensure a smooth harvest?

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