Thanks to cooler temperatures and a relatively wet summer, Corn Belt farmers are set to achieve record yields in 2014. To help you make the most of this year’s harvest and boost profits in the face of lower commodity prices, we’ve compiled a series of tips that will enable you to maximize yields while minimizing losses.
#1 – Ready Equipment and Storage Facilities
When it comes to your combine, make sure it is serviced, adjusted, tested and ready to go well before the start of harvest season. There’s nothing worse than a field full of corn waiting to be harvested because your equipment is not ready for action. Plan on spending at least a day getting your combine prepared for duty, using your owner’s manual to determine initial adjustments.
To avoid slowing your corn harvest, make sure you have more than enough dryer capacity. If you’re worried about running out of room, look into renting a nearby grain elevator, if possible.
#2 – Pay Attention to Moisture Levels
Only extreme moisture levels should keep you from beginning your corn harvest. In fact, moisture levels as high as 25% are not too high to get started. Higher-moisture corn can be transferred to grain terminals without being discounted. Waiting too long to shell corn can lead to increased yield losses. What’s more, for those who harvest both corn and soybeans, delays can cause soybeans to dry out, costing you money when you bring them to market.
#3 – Monitor Field Losses Early and Often
If your combine has been readied properly, you shouldn’t have to face corn yield losses of more than 1-2%. To measure field losses, Vern Hofman, an agricultural engineer from North Dakota State University, recommends placing a 1 sq. ft. frame in an area where you’ve begun to harvest and count the number of kernels inside the square. A loss of two kernels per square foot represents a loss of one bushel per acre.
If you find that you are experiencing excess kernel loss, check the corn head gatherer components on your combine, which include gathering chains, stalk rolls and deck plates, and make adjustments accordingly. Next, be sure that you are not operating your combine at a rate of speed that would lead to big losses. As long as threshing is adequate and losses are minimal, maintain a relatively low cylinder speed based on the range of your particular combine.
#4 – Don’t Ignore Underperforming Fields
If one or more of your fields is producing a yield rate that is less than you expected, don’t hesitate to investigate the cause. There is no better time to determine what lead to an underwhelming yield than during harvest, especially when it comes to insects, disease or drainage issues.
According to Bill Craig of Maxi-Yield Consulting Services, fields with heavy corn borer, rootworm damage or stalk rot should receive the most attention. If you feel your losses may lead to a crop insurance claim, Craig suggests farmers document yields or leave a section of the field unharvested so that an insurance representative can verify the claim.
#5 – Recalibrate Yield Monitors Often
To help you maintain accurate yield data, yield monitors should be recalibrated every time a different corn hybrid is harvested or moisture levels change noticeably between fields.
About Mud Hog
The first and only technology of its kind, Mud Hog rear-wheel drive systems are engineered to provide your front-wheel drive combines, cotton pickers and more with uncompromising four-wheel drive capability for increased agricultural production. By improving combine performance in all climate conditions – wet or dry – a Mud Hog can help you harvest faster, with less fuel, less compaction and less wear on your engine.
Source: Corn + Soybean Digest