Our grain handling system is a key piece in the harvest process. It needs to run efficiently, with as few break downs as possible, to get through corn harvest in a timely manner. Even a small thing can bring harvest to a halt. Every seven years we change the bearings in all the electric motors of our grain system that put high hours on annually. 2017 was the year to do this again. We take all the the smaller motors off but leave the larger ones in place and remove the internal rotor that the bearings are mounted on. The largest motor, a 20hp 3ph motor on the top our our 120′ grain leg, is always a challenge. This year, we were able to do all the work on top of the grain leg thanks to a powerful 20V DeWalt impact wrench that helped remove the bearings from the shaft.
We also need to test fire the grain dryer to make sure that the flame control system is working properly. One of the burners wouldn’t fire. Upon investigation, a wire wast found to be chewed in half by some critter.
Our seed beans are handled in a gentle manner. This means using a belt conveyor to load them from the truck to the bins. We also unload the combine tank at half throttle to limit damage to the seed from the augers.
Our time, during the end of August and first three weeks in September, is spent getting ready for harvest. This includes making sure the combine, along with the corn and bean heads, is harvest ready. A post-harvest inspection is done every year by our local John Deere dealer. They are quite thorough and always find something that needs attention. We are comfortable in handling most of the combine repairs but let the dealer do the ones that are more involved.
Combine with bean platform at shop.
Cutting sickle removed from bean head.
It is frustrating to find that major seed companies don’t have a level of quality control that matches their seed prices. With the impending wet and cold planting season that was forecast this spring, we had our equipment ready to get a jump start planting corn if that window of opportunity presented itself. April 18 – April 24 was our window and it quickly closed again until May 5. Two of the five varieties we planted failed at their first task of creating a good stand (high percentage) that emerges evenly. Gold Country 104-37 had very uneven emergence and a thin stand. Dekalb 52-85 had even emergence but, once again, a thin stand. Why don’t these companies publish a cold germ test on their seed tags? Warm germ is quite deceiving.
In this photos, taken from the top of our grain leg, you can see the difference in stand. The one on the left is obviously thinner than the one on the right. Both are Dekalb varieties.
Morgan field gets too much rain again!
Neighbor’s field. Weed nightmare!
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.
East view from the 120′ grain leg.
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.
Looking to the west.
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.
A big thank you to all the U of M staff for putting on a fantastic field day at Morris, MN today! Jodi DeJong-Hughes led this multi-station field day. Five different stations were set up to focus on Tillage and Technology:
- New tillage technology
- Planter set–up for moderate residue levels
- Residue management of corn–soybean rotations
- Tillage influence on soil properties
- Building soil health with improved soil structure
These sessions were followed by equipment field demonstrations showing chisel plow tillage with various points, vertical tillage and strip tillage.
The weather couldn’t have been nicer for a field day. Upper 60s, slight breeze and partly cloudy. It was a great chance to meet old friends and make new connections as well.
Here’s the U of M’s description of the day:
Crop producers and other agricultural professionals can see the latest in variable depth tillage equipment, watch side–by–side field demonstrations by national and regional manufacturers, and learn how to build soil structure for maximum soil productivity. Other highlights include the following:
- Discover how strip tillage can fit into your rotation and individual soil situations.
- Check out proper planter set–up for improved crop emergence and residue management.
- Discuss how to save time and money while building soil productivity.
- Visit with equipment reps about their new products and services.
Late summer means putting time into maintenance of harvest related equipment. The plastic cups on our grain leg, that handles the wet corn coming in from the fields, were getting brittle. We’ve found a couple of them stuck in various places in our grain system and succumbed to the fact that we needed to replace all 203 cups on the belt. Many of the bolts were rusted to the point where we had to either snap them off through the force of our 1/2″ DeWalt impact wrench or grind them off. After many hours the task was accomplished and we’re on to the next project!