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Capture More Bushels With Operation Harvest Sweep

Last fall, Jeff Kippley was amazed at the numbers he saw on his yield monitors. For the first time, his combine with an older John Deere 1290 head was capturing more bushels than the newer John Deere 612 corn head.

“It was mind-boggling,” says the Aberdeen, South Dakota, farmer.

Before harvest, Kippley needed to replace the deck plates and chains on the 1290 head. Instead of buying the traditional replacement parts, he decided to invest in Operation Harvest Sweep.

Operation Harvest Sweep is an aftermarket kit that includes a custom set of gathering chains and deck plates, complete with a lipped retaining edge, as well as impact pads that collect kernels. By reducing the impact around the paddle area and sweeping up kernels, the kit can reduce shatter loss.

Jeff Kipley
Jeff Kippley
“The kit made a huge difference,” says Kippley. “When you are talking about an $80,000 corn head that’s outperformed by a $15,000 corn head with a $17,000 investment, that’s incredible.” Operation Harvest Sweep is priced at $1,450 per row, so the $17,000 investment is the rough price for installing the system on Kippley’s 12-row head.

Kippley’s neighbor, Glen Crawford, also decided to purchase Operation Harvest Sweep last fall.

“There was always corn on the ground, but you didn’t know if it was coming from the head or not. Once we put on Operation Harvest Sweep, there wasn’t anything on the ground anymore,” says Crawford, who put the kit on his Case IH 3412 corn head. “When I take the corn head off to put the combine away, I used to have a few ears of corn in the feeder house. Now I have buckets full of loose corn that I sweep in.”

This is what inventor Shawn Gengerke envisioned when he designed Operation Harvest Sweep: loose corn making its way through the combine instead of falling to the ground.

“As a fourth-generation farmer, I know that corn shatter loss can be significant in some years,” says Gengerke, who farms in Groton, South Dakota. “Between losing the commodity and fighting volunteer corn issues the following year in soybeans, I knew the problem needed to be fixed.”

By his estimate, Operation Harvest Sweep can save 80% to 85% of all corn shatter loss.

This is consistent with what Harvey Fliehs sees on his farm, which is also located in Groton. “The kit cut our shatter loss by 80%,” he says.

“Before we had Operation Harvest Sweep, you could see the kernels fall off,” adds John Jouannet who works for Fliehs and helped install the kit on their Geringhoff header. “Last fall you could see the shatter sweep right up. It had to improve the yield.”

Jouannet said it also cut back on volunteer corn, which Kippley and Crawford noticed as well. “It was a lot cleaner than the normal year, which helps cut chemical costs,” explains Kippley.

Operation Harvest Sweep is available for most John Deere, Case IH, New Holland, and Geringhoff headers. As far as installation goes, expect to spend a long afternoon to a day or two.

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