Properly manage equipment to reduce yield loss.
Agronomy Bulletin 44 ─ Prepare for Harvest
A successful harvest depends not only on crop conditions but also on properly functioning equipment. While you can’t eliminate all harvest losses, you can identify the source and adjust harvest equipment for optimum performance.
Factors to Consider
- Field conditions
- Crop conditions
- Preharvest loss
- Evaluate the combine. Always clean the combine to remove any field trash, oil or grease buildup and rodent nests. Check for any loose, worn or missing parts and replace as needed. Inspect all belts and chains for wear and tear.
- Know where loss can occur. Combine losses can occur in any of the three main areas of the machine: the header (gathering), the rotor or cylinder (threshing) or the fan and shoe (cleaning). Excessive loss often can be avoided by taking a few minutes to measure losses at each area and then make the machine adjustments necessary to correct them.
- Prioritize fields for harvest. Scout fields and identify those with the potential for loss due to stalk rot, hail damage or other injury. Target these fields to harvest first.
- Prevent grain loss. Eardrop, shatter, improper cutting height or lodging can reduce yield. Grain also can remain on the cob, in the pod or pass through the combine with the residue. Fine-tune your combine settings to avoid these issues.
- Reduce harvest speed. A ground speed of 2.5 to 3.5 miles per hour usually produces good results. Slower speeds might be required under poor field conditions. Harvest at the slowest speed that will allow for complete threshing.
- Estimate yield loss. To estimate the per-acre loss, place a 1-foot square frame on the ground behind the combine after a pass and count the number of seeds found inside the frame. Do this at least three times and calculate the average. Every four soybeans or two kernels of corn counted in a square foot represent 1-bushel-per-acre yield reduction. Consult with your local Mycogen Seeds customer agronomist or trusted agronomic adviser to determine the amount of loss that requires machine adjustment.
Being unaware of the extent of harvest losses can cost you bushels per acre. Properly maintain harvest equipment, evaluate fields and make machine adjustments for optimum harvest performance.