As wheat harvest moves along, make sure you’re doing all you can to efficiently bring in the most, highest-quality grain possible. Keeping a close watch on combine settings will help you do that.
Grain losses can hit your bottom line in a couple of ways: grain left in the field and dockage at the elevator due to poor quality. A properly adjusted, smooth-running combine can minimize both.
Field losses. Some grain losses occur before you pull the combine into the field. These pre-harvest losses are those caused by shattering and lodging, by bird and wildlife feeding and by weather and other natural causes. Harvest losses are those caused by the combine. Some harvest loss is unavoidable, but proper combine adjustment and operation and catching the crop early can minimize these losses.1
You can measure field losses by counting the kernels or seed left in the field after harvest. This is normally done by counting the kernels or seed in a 10-square-foot area across the swath width of the combine. Aim for less than 2 percent loss (1 bushel per acre on a 50-bushel-per-acre wheat crop) when harvesting standing wheat under good conditions.2 If you determine your field losses are outside the acceptable range, review your combine’s operators manual or work with your Case IH dealer to fine-tune settings. Crisp, efficient cutting reduces grain harvest losses to shattering. Stay sharp with genuine Case IH cutting parts.
Grain quality losses. Combine adjustment can affect wheat quality in two fundamental ways: grain damage (cracked and broken kernels) and foreign material. Damaged grain and foreign material make wheat harder to handle, generate dust and contribute to storage problems. During storage, excess foreign material provides a more favorable environment for mold growth and insect infestation. It also makes it more difficult to properly aerate grain.3
Grain quality through the combine is a balancing act. You want to thresh and retain as much clean grain as possible without excess damage. Adjusting your combine to achieve the results you want can be complex. Oklahoma State University offers guidance, including a flow chart to help you correct your harvest losses.
Combining equipment and technology
Case IH Axial-Flow® combines and the AFX rotor, along with our Cross Flow™ cleaning system, help you maximize grain quantity and quality. The AFX rotor can be set into many configurations, adapting to both crop and threshing conditions. The Cross Flow cleaning fan uses its patented design to deliver consistently clean grain samples no matter the harvest condition.
Our Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) can help you fine-tune combine settings even more tightly. In addition to all of the other ways AFS helps improve harvest, Automatic Crop Settings (ACS) automatically adjusts the combine’s basic functions according to crop type. The system saves those custom settings for later reference. Another great way ACS helps improve grain quality and quantity is by automatically slowing the cleaning fan for headland turns.
Even with the latest technology and Case IH Agronomic Design™ on your side, there’s no substitute for getting up close and personal with grain loss and grain quality. Be sure to frequently check the ground and the grain tank as fields and harvest conditions change. If you’re struggling to get your combine settings just right, remember: The Case IH ProHarvest support team stands ready to help you harvest the best crop possible.
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