The dry crop year will mean farmers need factor in extra considerations as they prep machinery to head to the field. Small ears, brittle stalks, downed corn, and other field conditions will prove challenging. Machinery manufacturers are offering tips to get combines and grain carts geared up for this tough harvest.
Top Tips for Combines:
1. John Deere combine specialists suggest to thoroughly inspect the machine for worn concaves and threshing elements and replace as needed. Make sure the concaves are level and zero them to the rotor for a more accurate setting/reading for concave clearance.
2. According to Gleaner experts, be careful when threshing to prevent grain from going out the back of the machine. Fan speed should be slowed and sieve openings should be made smaller to account for smaller kernels. Then you can increase rotor speed to increase threshing and separation ability until grain damage is unacceptable, and then slow speed back down in small increments until damage is acceptable.
3. Another inspection on John Deere combines is to look at the Feed Accelerator and Stone Trap (FAST) and discharge beater wings for wear and replace if showing significant signs of wear. Run the FAST on low speed to minimize breaking of cobs before they enter the separator. Make sure after the concave is zeroed and leveled that it is open to deliver whole or broken cobs and minimize cob splits.
4. To help increase separator capacity, John Deere product specialists say to make sure separator grate spacers are installed between the grates and the rail. This will help move threshed cobs through the separator to eliminate them from the grain tank sample. If you find too much cob in the tank, it can be cured by reducing the small pieces of cob that get in the cleaning shoe from the start. Round bar concave inserts in the front concave will help increase threshing ability with inconsistent cob sizes and diameters. This will increase the area for the smaller cobs to be threshed. Grain damage could occur from this, so you need to monitor grain tank sample.
5. Gleaner combine specialists say to lower your header to take in more crop material than you normally would as the stalks and leaves will provide cushioning and prevent excessive kernel damage. Particularly in today’s Bt corn, leaves could hang on to the stalks to help cushion the grain and decrease butt shelling before crop enters feeder house.
6. For corn heads, John Deere specialists say to check and make sure deck plate spacing is close enough that the smallest ears are not shelled at the head or broken off. Adjust gathering chain lugs so they are straight across from each other to aggressively move trash through the head. Run your back shaft speed as slow as possible to minimize breaking off of stalks and increasing your trash intake. Gleaner specialists say to remember to keep the stripper plates close and to narrow the snapping roll openings on your corn head to accommodate smaller ears and stalks.
7. And John Deere experts remind farmers to select your ground speed so the separator can be as full and consistent as possible. Crop conditions within the same pass will be very inconsistent. As you move from poor yielding conditions to better yields and vice versa, not changing speeds will lead to threshing and separating problems. You may need to make adjustments as you change varieties and fields.
8. If you experience grain damage or combine plugging this is likely caused by an uneven flow of crop material caused by an improper adjustment. Gleaner experts remind farmers to refer to the combine operator’s manual or contact your local dealer for advice on combine adjustments for drought conditions.
9. The dry weather and crop conditions also increase the necessary alertness for maintenance and machinery fires. Gleaner specialists ask farmers to take the extra time to keep filters clean and screens clean and free of debris. Fires can also be more prevalent in these conditions, so before beginning harvest take the extra time to have fire extinguishers serviced and place one in every harvest vehicle.
Top Tips for Grain Carts:
Kinze Manufacturing offers the following tips and the following infographic to get grain carts ready for harvest. Kinze service managers say, grain carts are inherently simple products compared to other farm machinery, so most of the pre-harvest maintenance can be done with visual checks in a short amount of time.
1. Inspect augers for noticeable wear – over time augers may become smaller in diameter, which will diminish their performance.
2. Check for proper adjustment of the drive belts and make sure serviceable parts of the power take off (PTO) shafts are greased or serviced.
3. If wheels carry your cart, reset the torque on the wheel nuts and check the tire pressure.
4. If tracks carry your cart, check the torque on various bolts and tension on the track itself.
5. Check the oil in the gearbox.
6. Look over the tarp to make sure there aren’t any tears or spots showing wear.
7. Confirm the accuracy of the scale system by checking the weight and load of your cart with the legal for trade scale at your local grain elevator.
8. Inspect the hydraulic hoses to ensure they have no visible wear spots or leaks.
9. Make sure the lights are working properly.
10. Check to see that the safety chains are attached securely and in good condition.
11. Make sure your "Slow Moving Vehicle" sign is clean and clearly visible.
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