Harvest season is over in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, says Ryan Braun, the Case IH combine product specialist who covers the area. Braun – no relation to the Milwaukee Brewers slugger/MVP candidate of the same name – has served as a combine specialist for about a year and a half. Before joining Case IH, he spent three years working on a Syngenta research farm, and another six years at MacDon industries in Winnipeg. Braun grew up on a small grains farm just outside of Winnipeg, which his family still operates. He says he’s a big fan of farm equipment in general, but that he’s always been fascinated with combines “because of the incredible job they do.”
Canola and wheat are all done – even the stragglers are off. There are a couple inches of snow on the ground now. Some guys had a wet spring so they seeded late. But even those guys are done, and harvest went well.
We had a dry summer and a really dry harvest season. For the most part in my territory, it really didn’t rain for the last half of the summer. So when it was time to harvest, guys could pretty much go 24/7. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a guy shut down his combine for coffee break when I got to his field, because he just wasn’t in a rush.
With yields, it all depends on where you farm. In northern Saskatchewan around Saskatoon, yields were incredible. As you go further south toward Regina, it was quite a bit wetter. In eastern and southern Saskatchewan yields weren’t as good. In the very southeast corner, it was so wet that hardly anything got planted.
We saw something similar in Manitoba. Some spots had really decent crops, and some areas were a disaster because of the wet spring. Probably 30 percent of Manitoba wasn’t even seeded.
Bigger equipment is common here because the farms are bigger. Plus we’ve got a shorter window to get everything done. So when it’s go time, you might only have a few weeks to get that crop into or out of the ground. That’s why you see all Class VIII and IX combines around here. Guys need the capacity. And in most areas, we’re usually shoving large amounts of tough straw into the combine, so you also need a lot of power.
Guys also have five to six different crops per farm, so you get a lot of varying conditions. This is where the crop adaptability of Case IH Axial-Flow combines really shines. We also run a lot of Case IH draper heads in my territory, because they have a huge advantage in how they feed the combine.
And because of the high volumes of tough straw, we plug rotors a lot. I think the biggest advantage we have in the 20 Series Axial-Flow combines is the reversible rotor – part of the Power Plus CVT drive. We’re the only ones on the market with that feature.
With a 20 Series combine, you have the ability to unplug the rotor from the cab. Everybody else has to get out, cut straw, pull it out by hand, open up the cage – basically pull the combine apart to unplug it. It can take three to four hours, and if you push your combine to capacity you may end up doing that a couple times a season. During harvest, the biggest thing I do is give advice on how to set the combine to avoid this scenario, and maximize grain savings.
And when I start getting those calls, I also start relaying what’s working to other dealers and customers, so we can all stay ahead of the game. Harvest is definitely my busy time of year, between keeping my guys’ combines in the field and trying to get to the World Series. (Yes, I’m kidding.)