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Sizing up field losses

A seed here, a kernel there . . . it soon adds up to bottom-line busting losses, warns John Nowatski of North Dakota State University. For example, finding just two corn kernels in a 1-square-foot area equals 1 bushel. Just four soybeans per square foot adds up to 1 bushel lost.

Now, there is little you can do about existing losses in unharvested grain except for getting the crop out as soon as possible. But you need to peruse unharvested crop to determine existing losses so you don’t end up blaming combine adjustments for those losses. Average preharvest losses should be less than 2% of total crop yield.

After walking the field, start to harvest. After an arbitrary period of harvest, stop the combine and back up the length of your combine. Now get out and check the ground for ears or pods, kernels, or seeds which were caused by the head or platform operation. Doing so will identify that it is the head or platform that’s at fault and not the combine, Nowatzki explains. Make adjustments accordingly to keep ear losses to less than 1% (each full-size ear represents about 1 bushel per acre loss) and seed losses to less than 0.4% of the crop.

Next, walk behind the combine to check for losses deducting those losses you determined were being caused by the head or platform. Your aim is to adjust a combine to 0.4% of the crop.

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