HARVEST CHALLENGES AND CONSIDERATIONS
Posted by: Todd Kamp on Sep 29, 2017 12:32:05 PM
SOYBEANS, MILO, CANOLA, SUNFLOWER, SOYBEANS, WHEAT AND SMALL GRAINS
Corn is king in U.S. crop production. And, that’s based on acres planted and skyrocketing demand due to ethanol production, livestock feed and export needs.
However, other crops are important, too, with soybeans, wheat, milo and others rounding out a top ten in terms of production.
MILO OR GRAIN SORGHUM
The demand for milo is not near that of corn. But it is drought tolerant, does well in challenging soils, and can be productive with less fertilizer input than corn.
The crop must be cut close to the head to leave as much stubble in the field as possible for conservation. This helps retain soil moisture and keep the field cooler. Also, stalks are smaller and have higher moisture content than corn, which can result in more trash going through the harvester unless it is cut higher up.
Spencer Walker of Walker Farms in Kansas agrees that leaving extra stalk in the field is essential.
“Out here, since we don’t get a lot of rain, we want to keep as much cover
on the field as possible. By doing that, you reduce the amount of moisture
you lose. It helps with catching snow, and if your ground is covered, it keeps
it cooler and you won’t have as much evaporation.”
– Spencer Walker, Walker Farms
Overall, milo is not corn, yet it rivals the power crop in some respects, and occupies an important place in geographic crop diversification and climate adaptation.
Sunflowers are typically harvested as a people food, for wild bird feed and also as seed oil for cooking and food processing.
In South Dakota, Josh Meier and his brother Anthony of the Devastator farming operation were looking to diversify crops during down time from corn. With only 16-inches of average rainfall per year in the area, it offered conditions that would work for sunflowers.
“This is a different climate and a different time frame for harvesting,” he says. “We’ve planted sunflowers and now we’re planting spring wheat. With sunflowers, you can plant into the end of June so it gives you flexibility.”
–Josh Meier, the Devastator farming operation
For harvesting, growers know that sunflower stalks are tall and seed heads are decidedly top heavy, which can lead to an effect similar to whiplash, and increase shatter loss. Dwarf cultivars of the plant can reduce this effect as well as reduce lodging.
It’s beneficial to smoothly glide through the crop with well-defined, effective cutting, while utilizing long gathering pans extending ahead of the cutter bar to salvage shattered seed.
SOYBEANS, WHEAT, CANOLA, SMALL GRAINS
Low-growing or lower-growing crops, such as soybeans, wheat, canola and small grains present their own set of challenges when compared to corn.
These crops are typically farmed due to growing conditions being less suited to corn or more suited to the alternative. Although, they may be chosen for conservation reasons also, for example; soybeans being rotated with corn to optimize the agronomy of a field.
Andy Slinden of Don-Jo-Way Farms in Minnesota makes soybeans part
of a conservation effort, rotating with corn.
“It was a matter of the data that was there that you see an improvement of yield in corn and at that time we were solid seeding soybeans and dealing with white mold,” Slinden says. “We were thinking if we planted 22” rows we would have a better chance of not having as much white mold so that’s what we went with 20 years ago and it’s been working out good. We rotate between corn and soybeans every year.”
Plants in this classification are closely spaced, dense and thick with a tendency to mat down in wind and weather. For example, with soybeans, harvesting equipment needs to get down low, nearly shaving the field to get all of it. Or, with wheat, for example, it needs to be raised up and leave the right amount of stubble in the field to be retained as straw.
Machinery has to be somewhat multi-purpose yet still dedicated to the fact that these types of plants are low-lying compared to corn. So, harvesters typically feature some sort of flexing action to ride the contour of the land and adjust for these considerations.
OTHER CROPS, OTHER HARVESTING TECHNIQUES
Crops, besides corn, play an essential role in diversification, conservation and the bottom line. And, to harvest these more specialized crops, retrofit makeovers and universal equipment solutions might play a role. Yet specialized harvesting equipment to match the crop can maximize yield retention and minimize hassles. For milo, soybeans, wheat, sunflower, canola and small grains, Geringhoff offers specific heads, like the TruFlex Razor, Milostar, and Sunflower, that are always a cut above.