How To Measure & Reduce Corn Harvesting Losses
Sure, it might just look like a kernel here or there. No big deal, you think to yourself. University of Missouri Extension Service agents disagree: you could be missing out on more grain than you realize.
From a recent report:
Until corn harvesting losses can be identified and measured, operators have no way of knowing whether their losses are at an acceptable level. This guide lists the major sources of loss.
- Preharvest loss
Some crop losses are caused by lodging. Appearing as whole ear losses, they increase as the season progresses, and they are outside the operator’s control at harvest time. Average preharvest losses should be less than 1 percent of total crop yield. This loss can go much higher in adverse crop years or when harvest is delayed.
- Header ear loss
Driving at a ground speed that is too fast or too slow, driving off the row or operating the header too high may result in lost whole or broken ears. Losses average 3 to 4 percent of the total crop yield. With proper machine operation and adjustment, you can hold losses to 1 percent.
- Header kernel loss
Some kernels are shelled out and lost by the header at the gathering snouts, snapping bars and snapping rolls. These losses average about 0.6 percent. With proper adjustment and machine operation and good field conditions, you can hold these kernel losses to about 0.4 percent.
- Combine cylinder loss
Insufficient shelling action causes some kernels to remain on the cob as they pass through the machine. With the correct cylinder or rotor speed and correct concave clearance adjustment, this loss should not exceed 0.3 percent. Correct adjustment results in few or no broken cobs with no kernels attached to them. Too vigorous shelling action results in excessive kernel breakage.
- Combine separation loss
Some kernels may pass over the sieves and out of the combine. With correct sieve and wind adjustment, this loss should be held to 0.1 percent of the total crop yield.
Measuring your combine losses should only take about 15 minutes. This time will be made up in saved money when you correct the problems that are causing you to lose grain – don’t sweat this time.
Here’s how they suggest measuring harvest losses:
Determine losses by counting the number of full-size ears (approximately 3/4 pound) or the equivalent weight in smaller ears found in 1/100 acre. Each full-size ear represents about 1 bushel per acre loss.
Count the kernels per 10 square feet to determine kernel losses. Two kernels per square foot equals a 1-bushel-per-acre loss.
Enter ear and kernel counts in Table 2 and Table 4 respectively. After you complete these tables, they will show the total harvest loss as well as the loss at each section of the machine. The results will identify the areas where combine adjustments need to be made.
First, disconnect the straw spreader or chopper. Stop the combine where the crop is representative of the entire field. Shut off the header. Back up a distance equal to the length of the combine, and shut off the combine.
Determine the total ear loss (step 1) and the total kernel loss (steps 4, 5 and 6) for the combine. If the total loss for the machine is 3 percent to 5 percent of the total crop yield, keep on harvesting. If the loss is greater, find the source of loss to determine where adjustments are needed.
Click through to see the full guide on reducing harvest loss – they have plenty more information if you’re interested in preventing this lost income next harvest season. Hat tip to Agriculture.com for finding the article.
-Al Winmill, Titan Outlet Store Team