Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

8 Tips for Corn Harvest Success

Brad Krajewski
Technical Seed Manager
As another growing season nears its end and you’re busy with a million different things, is there anything you can do to help ensure an orderly corn harvest? Here are some tips that could help you keep things on track.
 
1. Make sure your equipment is prepped and ready.
Have your machines serviced or repaired if necessary, in place and ready to go. This includes your combine, tractor, grain cart, trucks, augers and bins.
 
2. Know your marketing strategy and plan accordingly.
For example, if you have a contract to fill at a particular grain elevator, what is your plan for taking corn from a field that’s closer to that destination versus filling your own grain bin with corn from a field that’s closer to home? Know the logistics about what contracts you need to deliver on.
 
3. Calibrate your yield monitor.
Accuracy matters. If you’re using your data to evaluate hybrid performance or do a fertility trial, for example, making sure your monitor is calibrated correctly will give you the most accurate results and help you make the best determination on how a particular product performed.
 
4. Know your hybrids and have a plan of attack.
Which products are going to dry down first that you’ll want to get to right away? Depending on the situation, decide if you want to harvest damaged fields first before any more of the crop is compromised, or harvest your good corn first while it is healthy and leave poorer crops until the end.  
 
5. Know the quirks of your fields.
Are there certain fields that present harvest challenges — for example, those with wet, low spots? Make sure you harvest those before rain or snow comes. Otherwise, it will be a challenge to ever get the corn crop out of that field.
 
6. Recheck equipment when you’re in the field.
Make sure you’re cleaning the grain off the ears correctly and you’re not throwing too many kernels out the back end of the combine.
 
7. Clean your equipment thoroughly.
It’s a no-brainer to clean equipment at the end of the season, but are you cleaning machinery in between fields? Combines can transfer diseases that overwinter in crop residue, such as Goss’s wilt, from field to field if you’re not cleaning them. It’s the same story with seeds from herbicide-resistant weeds.
 
8. Take notes.
Don’t rely on your memory; write down in-field observations. Capture them electronically or use a trusty paper and pencil. 

Make Every Soybean Count at Harvest

Jamie Kloster
Technical Seed Manager, CROPLAN® seed
As we near the finish line with this year’s soybean crop, it’s time to focus on capturing the maximum number of bushels at harvest. Losing just three to four soybeans per square foot can reduce yield by 1 bushel per acre and quickly take a bite out of bottom-line profit potential.
 
The following are a few reminders for success this harvest season.
 
1. Scout fields now. Scouting soybean fields before harvest can help identify and mitigate potential harvest challenges. For example, if weeds are a problem, you might consider a late-season herbicide application to alleviate combining issues. Also be sure to check label restrictions and pre-harvest intervals.       
 
2. Inspect harvest equipment. Take time to make sure all equipment is in optimal working condition before heading to the field. Review the combine’s standard settings and inspect all key parts, such as belts, chains and the auger. Pay special attention to the condition of cutter bars and knives to help avoid losses at the head.
 
3. Monitor moisture levels. Keep a close eye on each field’s moisture levels to help prioritize harvest order to avoid soybean shatter and split issues. Harvesting at moistures between 13 and 15 percent minimizes harvest losses, splits and dockage at the elevator. Moisture below that range can accelerate shatter and split problems. Where shatter losses appear likely, harvesting earlier or later in the day, when higher humidity increases pod moisture levels, helps minimize the problem.
 
4. Consider weedy fields. Clean out the combine after harvesting fields with hard-to-control weeds such as waterhemp and other tough species to prevent them from spreading to other fields. You could also consider harvesting weedy patches or even the entire field last to avoid spreading weed seeds to other locations.
 
5. Match equipment settings to conditions. Soybean losses can be minimized by adjusting combine settings to match crop conditions. For example, if drought conditions caused shorter soybean plants, adjust the cutter bar and reel height accordingly to obtain as much yield as possible. Also, monitor cutterbar performance as well as cylinder-concave settings to reduce the pass-through of pods that still contain soybeans. Combining at reduced speeds (< 3 mph) can help minimize harvest losses and may be necessary where there are green stems at harvest.
 
6. Gather data for next season. Pay attention to the yield monitor and observe high- and low-yielding areas of each field. Try to determine what caused those results so you can either replicate that success or plan to alleviate losses the next time. 

Tips for Prepping Your Planter

Kyle Reiner
Master Agronomy Advisor
It’s hard to believe that spring planting is just around the corner. Is your planter ready to roll? Checking it now can save you precious time when you wish there were more hours in the day. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years.
  1. Check disk opener blades. Replace disks that show more than a half-inch of wear. Worn disk opener blades could create a “W” shape in the bottom of the seed trench, which can cause variances in seed planting depths of up to three-quarters of an inch and make for uneven stands.
  2. Examine bushings and chains. Check the backs of row units to identify play or wear that could lead to seed depth inconsistency and row unit bounce. Also inspect rusty or loose chains that could break or jump over sprockets.
  3. Calibrate seed meters. Seed meters should be checked by a trusted professional to assess accuracy. Run different seed sizes through meters to ensure they dispense at the correct rate. An inaccurate seed meter can hurt yield and profitability due to skips, doubles or triples in seed drop and distribution.
  4. Examine seed tube for wear. Seed tube wear largely depends on use but can be affected by other factors. For example, hitting a rock or another hard object in the field could damage a seed tube’s shape, causing seed to get hung up or bounce while exiting the tube. Replace split or worn tubes.
  5. Inspect row cleaners. Make sure bearings are in good working order, turning freely. Set the depth properly to clean out residue in front of the row unit. Remember that row cleaners are not meant to be tillage tools.
  6. Prepare your seed tank for smooth dispensing. Put graphite, talc or a pre-mixture of both in the bottom of seed boxes or tanks prior to filling with seed. This added lubrication allows for smooth, consistent flow of seed through the seed box into the row meters. Always follow manufacturer recommendations regarding use of a flowability agent.
  7. Level your planter. Hook up the planter to the tractor that will be pulling it, then set the planter down in the field and make sure it is not leaning too far forward or too far back. The parallel arms on row units should be level. Planter unit position affects coulter depth, closing wheel pressure and seed tube angle.
  8. Don’t forget about electronics. System and software updates are as important as the mechanical aspects of planters. Making sure that electronics are working well will reduce downtime when the planter should be running.
Start preparing your planter now to save time and money “down the row.”

Tech Tasks After Harvest: Part 2

Joel and Kyle
Hosts, WinField
Following up from last week’s episode of The Deal With Yield®, host Joel and guest Drew Garretson chat about updates in the ag technology industry. Tune in to hear how the size and capabilities of equipment are changing. Get their take on the importance of balancing trusted advisors relationships along with big data to best help farmers. Also listen to their response to an audience question about using technology to determine your best return on investment as crop prices decline.
 
For more information on new companies and updates in ag technology, visit answertech.com.
Season 7: Episode 5 – Tech Tasks After Harvest: Part 2

The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.

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