While you might be glad to finally be done with harvest 2017, don’t neglect to make notes to improve combine performance next fall. Farm equipment mechanic Dan Anderson says to watch for the following issues:
- Did your combine spread soybean straw unevenly across the field? Irregular wads or bunches of soybean residue behind a combine are often due to bunch-feeding at the platform, which is caused by a misaligned reel. A reel that is higher or farther forward on one side of the platform will feed good on one end but build up bunches on the other end that is out of alignment. Before storing the platform, check to see if the reel is parallel with the cutterbar, front to rear and up and down. If not, before next harvest, run the reel all the way forward and back and up and down several times to rephase the reel’s hydraulic system. If the reel won’t hold position for more than 10 minutes, arrange to repair the reel’s hydraulic system.
- Did lots of volunteer grain sprout in your fields after harvest? If the density of sprouted grain varies across the field, wrack your memory to recall what changed at the point where sprouts increase or decrease. An increase in grain loss often occurs when an operator doesn’t change the machine settings from the previous night before he starts harvesting dewy crops the next morning. Someday somebody will tie grain loss monitors to their GPS mapping system. Those maps will change the way operators run their machines, when they see how sensitive combines are to variations in ground speed, crop density, crop moisture and other variables.
- Did you pull small pieces of ragged metal from auger hoppers while unloading trucks? They probably came from inside the combine. Take the metal to your dealership and pass them around among the mechanics. There’s a good chance they’ll recognize where they came from and help you decide what repairs need to be made during the off-season.