I have two sisters living in the Denver, CO area who grew on the farm. They are striving to keep their kids connected to the farm through visits usually timed around harvest. This year the weather wasn’t very cooperative so the opportunity for a combine ride was nearly non-existent. The did have a chance though to tend to the steers needs by feeding them an endless supply of apples harvested from the nearby trees.
Sunday, October 2 was a day to remember but not in a positive way. We had just started filling our second truck with soybeans when disaster struck. I had unloaded the combine onto the grain cart while heading back to the road. Once I got to the road, I decided to dump off the few bushels I had left in the combine since the auger was passing right over the truck as I turned around. Once unloaded, I headed back into the soybean field. I didn’t get more than 50 feet down the field when the monitor on my armrest had a big red warning about low hydraulic pressure. Thinking I was spewing oil all over the place I shut down the combine and stepped out the door to investigate. As I looked back at the engine compartment from the top platform of the ladder, I saw a large ball of flames in the hydraulic pump area. I turned on the radio and told Dennis, who was in the grain cart, to call 911 immediately. He came over, as I was emptying the cab of important items such as my monitor with all the data on it, and emptied the fire extinguisher on the fire to no avail. We did what we could to secure items from the cab and stood back watching the flames grow as we waited for the fire trucks to arrive. Needless to say, the combine was a total loss but the fire department did manage to save the bean head.
We were able to rent a combine the next day and use that until we made a purchase. We used some down time during rainy days to research and look at combines in the area and settled on a John Deere S660 from Worthington, MN.
Arriving early in the morning, to load soybeans harvested the day before into storage bins, we were greeted by our curious steers. This year we raised one variety for Pioneer that will be sold as seed to farmers in 2017. Seed beans are handled more carefully that other soybeans intended for the processing market. The combine is set to thresh the soybeans as gently as possible. We use a belt conveyor to fill the storage bins as well as fill the trucks that pick up the beans during the following winter. Growing beans for seed will provide a premium that compensates for the extra time incurred plus a good profit for the grower.
Visiting the Morgan field in September didn’t revive any hope of harvesting a respectable crop after the spring hail damage. Once again, the bowls had a fair amount of water in them. Weed control was acceptable. Applying extra weed control herbicides and having migrants hand weed was definitely the right choice. The second photo here is the neighbor who chose to do nothing and eventually ran a stalk chopper through the field to take out the few corn plants he had left. He seems to have forgotten that weed control is ultimately most important.
It’s always worth the 120′ climb to the top of our grain leg. We needed to inspect and lubricate the grain system to be ready for corn harvest. Test firing the grain dryer is very critical. Without it working properly, the rest of the system sits idle and corn harvest can’t proceed. While at the top, I can’t resist taking some photos with my iPhone.
The combine came out of the shed at the end of August. Using the list of repairs suggested by Kibble Equipment, from our annual inspection, we meticulously remedied each item step-by-step. We have found post season inspections to be invaluable in preventing in season down time with our equipment.
Dennis and I like to walk through our test plot pre-harvest to get a feeling for how varieties are performing ahead of combining them. The rains this year presented a challenge in getting this done in a timely manner. We exited the field with a large amount of mud on our boots.
While surveying the plot we do a stand count to see what percent of our planted stand put on a harvestable ear. We also look for health problems that are presenting themselves. This will give us an idea of what’s going on in the fields that are planted to a particular variety that’s also in the test plot. If a plant has stalk weakness or ears are already hanging down, then we know that we’ll need to keep a close eye on the field we’ve planted that variety in. If that variety isn’t in the field, we probably won’t consider it for planting another year. This is a great reason to have your own test plot rather than just looking at numbers on paper!
August 11 brought yet another round of heavy rains. I woke up to thunder and pulled up the radar on my phone. Here’s a screen shot of what I saw. I took a trip to our Morgan field that received hail in June as well as one other large rain event. Our low areas were once again filled to the rim with water! Crazy summer!
Early August is prime time for scouting for soybean aphids. We try to get through our soybean fields with the pickup so we can thoroughly scout. Our 2005 Toyota Tundra is about 4 inches narrower than a full size pickup so it fits well down the 30 inch soybean rows. The high clearance is easy on the tall beans. We did push it a little too late this year though and drove down some beans that were starting to lodge.