Things You Maybe Don't Know About Operating A Corn Head or Bean Platform
Aug 16, 2015
Sometimes things are hidden in the fine print of owner's manuals, such as the suggestion that corn heads should be operated with the fronts of the stalk rolls/gathering chains 6 inches to a foot below the average ear height of the corn being harvested. That's because corn heads and combines perform best when they have to deal with the least possible amount of excess stalks and leaves, and the theory is that the head should only run low enough to get under the majority of ears.
Few operators follow that recommendation--especially operators with "chopping heads"-- because they prefer to run their corn head just off the ground and "process" the stalks as much as possible to make it easier to run a disk-ripper or other tillage tool through the harvested field. Besides, a field of knee- or waist-high harvested stalks doesn't look as tidy as a close-cropped field of corn stubs.
As for bean platforms, few owner's manuals mention it, but engineers at combine manufacturers heartily recommend avoiding harvesting "across" rows--like when you're opening up a field and combine into the headland. Harvesting at a 90-degree angle across the rows at even 2 mph subjects the cutterbar and cutterbar gearcase to abrupt changes from "no-load" ( between the rows) to "full load" as the entire length of the cutterbar hits a row all at once.
Most soybean platforms can handle the shock load, but there have been cases where a worn cutterbar or gearcase broke when subjected to the sudden change from no-load to full-load every 30 inches. Given the option, most engineers would prefer that a bean platform cut at a slight angle when cutting across rows, so that there is always some portion of the cutterbar cutting beans.
Corn heads will survive with the tips of their snouts grazing the ground, and soybean platforms can generally endure the shock loads of cutting a square corner when opening a new field. But the next time you break a sickle while combining across headlands, or prematurely wear out a corn head gearcase, this reminder is going to nag the heck out of you.