Drought Setting Thoughts for Axial Flow, AND Corn Head setting check list

 It looks to be an early harvest.  In some areas in the Midwest, we are looking at crops that have been exposed to drought.  For the most part, the normal crop settings will apply.  Here are a few additional items to consider for drought crops:

Combine Drought Setting Recommendations

1.   Make sure concaves are parallel, level to the rotor.  Make sure concaves are “zero” adjusted.  This may become important for small soybean pods and small kernels in drought stricken corn.  We want the threshing area to be 100% efficient.  If you have an older combine that has not been check for a while, this maybe would be a good thing to do.  The operator’s manual has instructions on how to check this.
2.   We normally use 380 RPM rotor speed – In low yielding corn, you may be able to slow the rotor down 20 to 30 RPM due to the lower volume (350-360 RPM).  Continue to use the concave setting of the thickness of a cob which is normally 20 to 25 MM.  If you have very drought stress ears with real thin cobs you may have to run tighter yet-maybe as tight as 15 mm.
3.  If you have drought stricken corn with small hard to thresh kernels:  You have heard us say, “Threshing is job number 1”.  If you are using an aftermarket concaves with smooth wires on the surface or round bar concaves—be aware that the threshing cycle happens further back in the rotor with these types of concaves (they are made for easy threshing crops).  If you have ears with very hard to remove kernels, you may not be threshing them all out in the concave, and any unthreshed kernels will go out the back, or get threshed in the chopper where they cannot be saved.  If you do not already use them, you may have to consider large wire concaves-they have threshing edges.
4.   Soft cobs that are broken crossways:  There is no good answer for soft cob varieties.  Follow the rule of the concave dimension being the thickness of a cob.  There will be times that you will just have to deal with soft broken cobs.  However, do not be fooled by the thought of rotor loss.  It is important to do “kill stall” to determine what is happening in the grate area of the combine.  If you see 2 or 3 kernels on a 3 inch piece of cob in the grate area that have not been threshed off, you will have to go tighter with the concave, and perhaps faster with the rotor speed.  “Threshing is job number 1”  If you do not thresh them in the front, they will be threshed in the chopper.  Yes, you will have to deal with broking cobs on the sieves, but at least you will be saving the grain.  (Other brands of combines really have a tough time with this – at least you have options.)
5.  Small Soybean pods:  If you have small soybean pods, 2 bean pods, or just plain hard to thresh pods, here is a trick that a number of folks do.  On a midrange (or legacy) combine – install a small wire concave  in the front number 1 position.  The 2nd and 3rd concave would continue to be large wire concaves.  This will give additional threshing ability for very hard thresh soybeans.  If you have a flagship model, you can put a small wire concave in the number 1 right position to get additional threshing ability.
6.  Cleaning Systems:  Just a note to double check your settings.  If the crop is very light test weight, dry and smaller kernels –  you may need to slightly reduce your top sieve settings, and perhaps, reduce your fan speed by 100 rpm.

Corn Head Settings to Check

Cornhead question: I want to do the best job I can with some of the dry corn this year.  Do you have suggestions for Corn Head Settings?
1.  Make sure the head is running approximately 23 degrees in cutting position.  The angle can be measured on the stripper plates (use a angle finder).  If you run too flat angle, you will increase the amount of leaf material into the combine.   If you run to steep of a angle, kernel loss counts will be higher due to gravity.
2.  Gathering chains can be run with a staggered pattern or a timed pattern.  A staggered pattern will pick cleaner and might be useful in green sticky leaves.  Running  a timed pattern will pick dirtier, but will save a few kernels as the leaves will act as a broom to sweep kernels up into the head.  Use this, if the leaves are very dry and the kernels are dry.  The dry brown leave will not have adverse effect in the combine as they will probable just turn to powder. (It should be noted that the 2600 chopping heads cannot be set to run a timed pattern due to the large open link chain design.  However, they do have larger and longer gathering chain paddles which kind of gives the best of both worlds for them.)
3.  Check your stripper plate dimensions.  The opening gaps should be 1/8 inch wider at the back of the stripper plates, verses the front dimension at the stripper plate.  The fixed stripper plate side has slots for adjustment. (I use sockets that have outside dimensions that are 1/8 inch different, as measuring tools).  Make the adjustments this year so the gaps are fairly close.  Maybe something like 7/8 inch gap in the front and 1 inch gap at the rear of the stripper plates.
4.  Know how to adjust your hydraulic deck plates.  Tighten the deck plates until you see excessive material and upper stalk coming in, then, back your setting off a little so the head picks clean.
5.  Run the right corn head speed in relation to your ground speed.  The ears should snap on the stripper plates between ½ way and ¾ of the way up the deck plate as you observe from the cab.  Adjust corn head speeds accordingly.
6.  This is a personal choice, but if your corn head auger height is adjustable, I like to raise the auger to just more than the thickness of a ear (with the kernels on).  I like to see ears pushing ears in the auger trough.  A lot of kernel damage can occur if the flighting is peeling the top two or three rows of kernels in half as the ear is delivered to the feeder opening (this can occur in very dry corn or very wet corn).  Make sure the auger is positioned as rearward as possible (near the back stripper plate).
7.  If you have a cornhead with point to point stalk roll knives, it might not hurt to check the stalk  roll knife clearance to make sure they are not worn or the gap is too wide.  The gap should be about 1/16 on a inch and not more than a 1/8 inch gap.  The stalk roll knives need to be set correctly in order to pull the small spindly stalks through, and not bind up in the stripper plates.  Visit the operators manual to learn more about this adjustment.