It’s harvest time on the farm! I told you it was probably going to start this week! Let’s get to it!
They’re all Here!
New toys finally arrived to the farm on Monday just before harvest commenced on Tuesday. Here we have a new (to us) combine and my awfully close to new truck. I actually bought the truck on September 10th sight unseen from the Western edge on Montana. It spent two weeks on the back of a car hauler. It’s a 2012 3500 Mega Cab Laramie I found with only 3,900 miles on it. Quite a step down in mileage from the 266,000 my other truck turned today. I’ll miss that truck because it just keeps on going, but the extra 280ft/lbs of torque in this Cummins will probably get me over that hump pretty easily!We brought our new soybean and wheat harvesting tool home on Monday as well. This is called a flex draper. How is this different from our old head? The black floor is actually made of 5 large rubber belts. Two on each side and one smaller belt in the center. A regular platform has a steel floor and a large cross auger running behind that black reel. The auger pulls crop to the center. Now the belts move everything, and it’s so much better. Now we don’t have soybeans that like to sit at the front and have beans knocked out of the pods before they get snatched by the auger. Everything feeds so much better now that the floor itself is moving all the material. The flex part is the same as the last few heads we’ve had except now it can flex more I think in large part because that big auger that connected the two sides of the head together is gone. Flex heads are much nicer than rigid heads. The head is able to flex all along its length to get over rocks or uneven ground without having to raise the header. This allows the machine to hug the ground so you don’t miss any low hanging soybean pods. The combine itself also has sensors to move the head both up/down and tilt left and right based on your settings and the ground conditions being sensed. In just a few days of harvesting with the draper I’ve already found it better than the old platform in pretty much every way.
This visual ought to make it easier to understand the flex I’m talking about. I’ve already noticed better flex when I cross waterways because I normally would have had to go back and cut on another angle to pick up soybeans where part of the head was riding a bit high. I haven’t had to do that yet with the new head. It just gets all of them the first time.
Let’s Cut some Soybeans
Dad and my son cutting some beans!Unloading on the go. A grain cart saves a combine a ton of time. Over a full harvest season imagine how much would be saved by not having to drive a full, or more likely partially full, combine to the edge of a field to dump on a truck and then drive back across the field empty. If you consider the trade difference between combines to figured at $200 an engine hour it’s easy to understand why a grain cart is valuable.In this instance I am unloading on a truck. With soybeans it’s not quite as important as corn. To put it in perspective corn yields are 2-4 times the volume of soybeans. And with our new corn head I’m gonna have a full grain tank often.Soybeans make for dusty work.
We raise soybeans for seed that are contracted with two different seed companies. Here we are putting some in storage. When we plant soybeans in this field that surrounds our “satellite” grain storage location we park a truck and use it like a big funnel to fill the bins.This is what happens at the bottom of the funnel. Grain goes into the dump and gets carried a few feet to the leg which takes the soybeans up and into the appropriate down spout for the bin we want to fill.
You know I love all my GPS based precision ag tools and hands free steering is one of the best tools! I’ve cut soybeans from both sides of this field and was left with this single strip. Thanks to GPS this swath is exactly the cutting width of my head. Try cutting soybeans at an angle to the row while driving yourself and see how well that works out. Actually even though my head is 35′ wide I have my track width set at 34.5′ because I find going the whole 35′ allows for a few escapees. Gotta love saving fuel and keeping the operator more alert and focused on the task at hand! Once you don’t have to devote energy to driving you’d be surprised at how much better you can monitor your operation. And if we jump up to the new S series combine on our next trade in 2 or 3 three years we’ll be able to have the combine operator actually take control of the tractor pulling the grain cart. The combine operator will then be able to shuttle the cart back and forth or left and right as he sees fit.We ran out of soybeans that were ready for harvest. We’ve been in four fields and have only cut 100% of one field. The head gets loaded on its trailer and sets off for home while the combine moves on to corn.
The corn head is new as well, but it’s been in the shed for at least a month. The new head is a 12 row which is the widest head we’ve ever had. We’ve used 8 row heads for a long time. And now we’ve completed the last piece of the auto steer puzzle! The combine will now drive itself in corn. Why couldn’t I do this before? It’s important that corn stalks feed straight down into the head so you don’t have ears falling to the ground. With normal guidance you might not be perfectly on the row all the time so driving yourself is better. Now we’ve added what John Deere calls Row Sense. This just ties the GPS steering to two “feelers” in front of a row on the head. As stalks push past the feelers they tell the machine if it needs to move right or left a little bit. This is my very first pass cutting 12 rows of corn! This was a great pass for me as it was the most corn I’ve cut in one pass and the machine handled the driving while I dialed in all the settings to get the head and combine running how we’d like them.10 acres of corn was all we managed to cut Saturday night. The moisture is still high so we shut harvest down early in the evening and will see what is happening on Monday morning. This screen from the monitor in the combine shows the results of the first two truckloads of 2013 corn. Since these trucks are going to town I’ll calibrate the combine against the scale tickets. I usually calibrate regularly against the grain cart scales and stay within 1% of that number. Right now the monitor shows a great 205 bushels per acre! And that’s the dry yield calculated by the monitor adjust to what’s called payable moisture. 15% moisture is where you won’t get docked at the elevator for having corn that needs to be dried down. 15% is the level of moisture needed for storing corn for long periods of time. Generally you don’t wait for corn to get that dry in the field. By that time you are probably going to lose yield from ears dropping and begin to worry about winter weather. Considering we averaged 95 bushels per acre after the drought of 2012 this is a welcome change.
Yep. The corn head that cuts a 30′ swath will fit in the just shy of 32′ opening in the tool shed. Actually we can get the 35′ draper in here too without taking it off the combine. As long as there is nothing just inside the door you can come in really close to the outside wall and hook one end of the head around the corner before you put anything else through the door. In fact I think that’s actually easier than what we did here. I couldn’t do this without a spotter, but I’ve put a 35′ head in before without assistance as long as I know where things are inside before I start.
I turned 33 on Friday and I had some gifts delivered to the field!