Terry Snack, Case IH Combine Product Specialist for Illinois, Missouri and Eastern Iowa, is this week’s harvest blogger. Snack was born and raised on a farm in east-central Illinois and went to work for International Harvester at about the same time the first Axial-Flow combine was introduced 35 years ago. In his three-plus decades with the company, Snack still “lives and breathes” combines.
As other specialists have reported, yields are variable and harvest is ahead of schedule compared to previous years. Many farmers are disappointed in their corn yields but they’ve been bracing for this scenario from the beginning of the summer. Here’s a recap of harvest progress in Illinois, Missouri and Eastern Iowa (east of I-35).
Harvest is clipping along in Illinois and Missouri. As of this week, Illinois producers are about half done with the corn harvest north of I-70, and south of I-70, they’re completely done harvesting corn. Missouri producers are about 75 percent done with the corn harvest. Many producers in southern Illinois and southwest Missouri chopped what corn they had earlier in the season and fed it to livestock because they knew the crop would be poor. Dryland corn in Illinois and Missouri is making anywhere from 60 to 150 bu/acre. That’s nothing to brag about but it’s respectable, considering the price of corn today compared to the price of corn a year or two ago. Crop insurance also will help offset some of the yield loss and add to farmers’ bottom lines this year.
Eastern Iowa had near-normal precipitation, especially in several regions of the state, so producers here have good crops compared to what we’ve seen in Illinois and Missouri. Maturity of the corn crop is lagging a little behind the other two states. Time-wise, it’s closer to normal and generally speaking, yields are going to be better than in the other two states. Corn harvest is about 22 percent complete.
In terms of soybeans, about 3 percent of the soybean crop is harvested in Illinois, and Missouri is about 1 percent complete. About 6 percent of the soybean crop in Iowa has been harvested. So far, it looks like the soybean crop in all three states is going to be better than expected.
Key Points to Remember: Tight and Slow
On drought-stricken corn (with yields of 40 to 50 bu/acre), stalks are very small in diameter and the integrity of the stalk is poor. The ear has literally drawn all of the nutrients out of the stalk to make kernels and has left the stalk in a delicate position for strength, rigidity and standability. As a result, we’re experiencing some downed corn due to recent high winds. We recommend you:
- Tighten up your settings. Stalks are smaller, so narrow up the stripper blades, narrow up the concave openings and make sure you have as thick of a mat of material in the machine as you can to get that good grain-on-grain thrashing.
- Slow your vanes down. It’s the same thing with the vanes that control how fast the crop moves through the rotor cage. Slow your vanes down, not because the yield is so high, but because there simply isn’t a lot of material other than grain (MOG) to rub against. Retarding the vanes will hold that MOG in there.
- Slow down your corn head. Because the ears are small and the kernels are loosely held on the cob, you’ll have a lot of header loss if you try to run at what would be a normal speed.
- Slow down your rotor. We don’t have 200-bushel corn this year in most circumstances. You have much less volume, so it’s important to slow the rotor speed down and be as gentle on the crop as you can. Don’t go too low, however, as centrifugal force is what separates grain from MOG.
You want the best machines available when dealing with stressful crop conditions, and Case IH Axial-Flow combines are performing very well. In the next Be Ready blog post, I’ll share comments from producers in my area who report excellent performance and fuel efficiency with their Axial-Flow combines.
Tell us about the crops in your area. We want to know if you’re seeing the same conditions as our combine specialists. The Harvest Reports are part of our efforts to help you Be Ready for the challenges and opportunities in agriculture.