Farmers spend an entire growing season caring for their soybeans with the goal of producing the best possible crop. Whether it’s a bumper crop or something less, too much is riding on those soybeans to do an inefficient job of harvesting. To get the most out of your crop, pay attention to the little things.
“The biggest thing is setting up the combine properly so you’re as efficient as you can possibly be,” says Dalton Deling, combine service technician with Martin County Implement in Truman, Minn. “For combining soybeans, that means sharp sickles, that concaves and shoe sickles are set right and fans are set properly. If fans are set too high, you’re going to blow beans out the back end so you’re growing to lose profit right there.”
While today’s combines are complex technological wonders, several basic observations make a big difference in harvest efficiency and grain condition.
“The first rule of thumb we tell farmers is you want the front sharp, the center dull and the back end sharp again,” adds Travis Bach, also a combine service technician at Martin County Implement. “You want a sharp sickle. A little bit of wear on your feed accelerator, concaves and threshing elements is better than having them sharp because sharp will damage and break the beans. Then you want the chopper sharp so the residue is getting chopped up and spread across the field.”
Deling says observing grain loss at the sickles, between the header and combine and then again at the tailings elevator will help farmers determine if the combine is properly set.
Regardless of the brand or age of the combine, taking the time to get it set right will increase efficiency and preserve grain quality. Fewer broken beans and fewer pods in the grain means U.S. soy customers will get a high-quality product and farmers will capture more value.