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10 tips for a smoother harvest

  • 01

    The drought's challenges won't end when the growing season's done. See a few ways you can avoid some common problems in harvesting corn & soybeans in a drought year.

  • 02


    Make sure you inspect your concaves and replace them if they're too worn. According to a report from John Deere, it's important to make sure they're level and zeroed to the rotor. "This will give more accurate setting/reading for concave clearance," according to a Deere report.

  • 03

    Rotor speed

    "Smaller diameter ears and less plant material suggest narrower concave clearance than normal. Don’t use faster rotor or cylinder speed than necessary for adequate threshing," says Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Mark Hanna. "Check the amount of seed coat cracking to fine-tune concave clearance and rotor speed."

  • 04

    Keep 'em separated

    One problem many anticipate this fall is a lot more cob making its way into the tank. To prevent this, make sure separator grate spacers are installed between the grates and rail. "This will help move threshed cobs through the separator to eliminate them from the grain tank sample," according to a report from Deere.

  • 05

    Shell it all

    One way to make sure you're getting even the smallest corn ears is by making sure your header deck plate spacing is "close enough that the smallest ears are not shelled at the head or broken off," according to Deere.

  • 06

    Keep it flowing

    In a drought year, it's especially important to keep material flowing consistently once you pull the combine into the field, according to Gleaner product performance manager John Keller. One way to ensure this will happen, he adds, is using a larger-than-normal header.

  • 07

    Head in low

    Overall header height is going to be much more important than usual this fall. "It's about getting that header down and getting as many of the corn & beans harvested as we can," says Dereck Klaassen, field supervisor for Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company of Iowa. "We need to make sure we're running our header as low as we can."

  • 08

    Don't let them out

    "Be careful when thrething to prevent grain from going out the back of the machine," says Keller. "Fan speed should be slowed and sieve openings should be made smaller to account for smaller kernels."

  • 09

    Stripper plates & snapping roll openings

    It's important to Keep the stripper plates close and narrow the snapping roll openings on your corn head to accommodate smaller ears and stalks, Keller says.

  • 10

    Keep filters clean

    A huge challenge in a dry harvest season like this one is preventing fires. One way is keeping all filters clean. “Hot, dry, dirty field conditions are hard on machines, so take the extra time to keep filters clean and screens clean and free of debris,” Keller says.

  • 11

    Fire extinguishers

    "Be prepared for combine fires by carrying two ABC-type extinguishers -- one in the cab and one at ground level," according to a report from Iowa State University Extension ag safety specialist Chuck Schwab. "Use a 10-pound extinguisher in the cab or operator's station and a 20-pound size nearer to ground level."

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