Harvest is the final stage of the cropping cycle; the plant has matured and you may think the final yield has been set, but there is still opportunity for yield loss during harvest. Every four soybeans or two corn kernels per square foot equates to a 1-bushel-per-acre loss. This loss can add up quickly even with low corn prices. It not uncommon for growers to experience harvest losses that exceed 10%. While it is impossible to get 100% of the kernels, we can get 96 to 98% of kernels by taking the time to check and adjust the combine. Below are some university tips for keeping harvest losses low.
Tips for keeping losses low
The best guide for correct combine settings is your operator’s manual.
Yield loss at harvest can fall into several categories: loss from handers, kernel shatter loss, threshing loss and separation and cleaning losses.
Run the combine engine at its rated engine speed.
- Use a ground speed of 2.8 to 3.0 miles per hour. (Do not regulate ground speed by reducing engine speed.) To determine ground speed, count how many 3-foot steps you can take in 20 seconds while walking beside the machine. Divide this number by 10 to get the ground speed in miles per hour.
- Close the stripper plates or snapping bars only enough to prevent ears from passing through.
- The chain flights over the stripper plates should extend beyond the edge of the plates about 1/4 inch.
- Ears should be snapped near the upper third of the snapping roll.
- Drive accurately on matched rows, spaced according to your combine head.
- Gathering snouts should float on the ground, and gathering chains should be just above the ground.
- Measure losses and make corrective machine adjustments whenever crop conditions change.