Harvest is progressing well in the North Central region, thanks to dry weather throughout the harvest season. It never rained during soybean harvest. And according to guest blogger Mike King, the Case IH combine product specialist for Minnesota and Central Iowa, the only thing slowing down the corn harvest is some down corn in a few areas. A member of the combine team (which he calls “the best job in the company”) since 2006, King has been with Case IH for 23 years.
Minnesota is 79 percent done with corn, and Iowa is 72 percent finished. Soybeans are out. All in all, it has been a pretty easy harvest. It never rained during soybeans, and that’s the problem crop when you get rain.
In a few areas, there were some challenging conditions during soybean harvest when it got extremely dry and windy, with low humidity. Beans were down around 7- to 8-percent moisture. There were some counties that banned combining on certain days because it was so dry. But guys were cognizant of what was going on, and blew off their combines regularly.
Now the only thing holding up the corn harvest is some down corn, and that just takes more patience to get through it. You can’t start as early in the morning when it’s covered in dew. But most guys have been blessed with good weather, and they’ve tried to get the bulk of down corn out in the middle of the day. For the most part, the weather’s allowed them to do that.
We did have some rain the middle of last week, anywhere from .5 to 1.5 inches, but not enough to keep anybody out of the fields for longer than a day or two. And most guys wanted a break anyway. They’ve been working anywhere from two to four weeks straight, and they needed a day off.
We do need more rain, and the dry weather is affecting tillage a little. Tillage tools have been pulling hard. The good thing when you have dry weather is that the tillage does a lot of good as far as soil compaction’s concerned. You can really get down and break up that stuff. So that’s promising for next year.
As for this year, yields have been all over the place – it all depends on the area. Central Minnesota got hit pretty hard last spring with weather, so planting was late there, and that has affected yields this fall. Yields here are just average, they’re the lowest in my area.
In the rest of my territory, yields have been above average to really, really good. Central Iowa has some really good yields, in the 55- to 60-bushel range for soybeans, and 190- to 200-bushels for corn.
Quality has been really good, mainly because everything’s dry. A lot of corn is coming out of the field in the 14- to 15-percent moisture range, so guys don’t have to dry it. That’s good and bad. They don’t have the expense of drying it, but harvest losses can go up, because the ears can shatter easily if they’re too dry. So guys have had to be more particular when setting their corn heads, to match the header speed with the ground speed. Our combines allow you to do that automatically.
The auto header to ground speed is a nice feature on the 20 Series Axial-Flow machines. (We’re the only one with this feature.) As you increase your ground speed, the corn head will automatically speed up. So that corn head is always running at the optimum speed for the conditions you’re in – you don’t have to make adjustments. You can set it up on your monitor, and it’s one less thing you have to keep an eye on.
As a combine product specialist, it’s also one less thing I have to keep an eye on. During the fall, I make sure that every red combine in my area is as productive as it can possibly be. I’m helping guys fine-tune their machines to get maximum productivity.