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Five-step pre-harvest checklist

Harvest time will be here soon. To get the most from your soybean crop, follow these five steps to prepare for harvest and troubleshoot potential problems:

1. Scout for weed escapes. Scout fields a few weeks before harvest and apply a herbicide to handle any remaining weeds. Also, identify locations of weed escapes so you can adjust your 2017 weed control plan.  As always understand and follow any label requirements related to use.

2. Look for stunted or lodged beans. While field scouting, check for soybeans that may be closer to the ground than normal. To prevent losses from lodged beans, adjust your equipment accordingly and slow your combine speed. Slowing to a ground speed of 2.5 to 3 mph will help preserve more bean yield during harvest.

These combine adjustments can help handle stunted and lodged beans:

  • Position the cutter bar as close to the ground as possible.
  • Run the axle of the reel 9 to 12 inches ahead of the bar.
  • Operate the reel as low as necessary to pick up lodged plants.

​​​3. Check stems and pods. Scout your fields again immediately before harvest and pay close attention to stems and pods. Sometimes green stems won’t dry down even though pods are dry. If you wait for stems to fully dry, the beans may become too dry and risk shatter at harvest. On the other hand, it can be difficult to combine stems that are still green.

If large areas have green stems or leaves but beans are mature, consider a pre-harvest herbicide application to help dry down the green tissue. Read the label in case the herbicide requires a waiting period prior to harvest.

4. Inspect harvest equipment. This checklist will keep your combine running efficiently throughout the harvest season:

  • Check the tension of all belts and chains.
  • Look for wear on auger flighting, rasp bars, and the cylinder or rotor concave.
  • Make sure the cleaning shoe is not broken and check for bent sieves.
  • Since the greatest losses during harvest occur at the header, be sure to look over the cutter bar for wear and flex.
  • Adjust the header’s height for maximum bean harvest.
  • Make sure all knives are sharp and knife guards are in good condition.

5. Keep an eye on moisture content. Time harvest when beans are at 14 percent to 13 percent moisture. Soybeans with moisture levels above 15 percent are difficult to combine. Also, the grain will be too wet for storage.

Soybeans that fall below 13 percent moisture risk losses from shattering, when dry pods bust open and drop their seeds on the ground. Shattering can happen in the field before harvest or during combining. Shatter risk is highest with repeated cycles of wet nights and heavy dew followed by dry days.

Contact your local seed advisor or agronomist for further advice on soybean harvest preparation.

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