Lebanon Crop Management Video

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27 September 2011

2011 Measuring and Reducing Soybean Harvesting Losses


Del Voight – Penn State Extension
Over the last several years of working with what I consider the top soybean producers in the State I have learned the importance of timely harvest of soybeans. It has been my experience that once 95% of the leaves turn brown about a week later its time to combine. I still remember John Yocum referring to the fact that after it the plants first reach harvestable moistures dry matter losses occur simply by the alternating day night. I found the following excerpts from a Missouri article useful during harvest to capture the losses that may occur during harvest.
Numerous tests of soybean combine losses show that up to 12 percent of the soybean crop is lost during harvest. Harvesting losses cannot be reduced to zero, but they can be reduced to about 5 percent. Combines can be operated to reduce losses without affecting the harvesting rate. This guide describes the major sources of loss. Consider shatter losses of 2 percent acceptable. Average losses are 5 percent or more.


Two discount Schedules for $10.00 Per Bushel Soybeans and the Weight/Value Lost From Soybeans at Moistures Other Than 13.5 Percent M.C. Standard
Discount of $.12 Per Bushel Per Point of Moisture (2% Per Point of Moisture)Discount of $.20 Per Bushel Per Point of Moisture (3.3% Per Point of Moisture)
Soybean Harvest Moisture, %, Wet BasisWeight of Water Loss (+) or Gain (-), Lbs/Bu to Convert Soybeans to 13.5% Moisture$.12 Discount Per Bushel, $Price Per Bushel, $Value Per Bushel, $, Adjusted for Moisture$.20 Discount Per Bushel, $Price Per Bushel, $Value Per Bushel, $, Adjusted for Moisture
195.5$0.66 $9.34 $9.76 $1.10 $8.90 $9.28
184.5$0.54 $9.46 $9.80 $0.90 $9.10 $9.40
173.5$0.42 $9.58 $9.84 $0.70 $9.30 $9.52
162.5$0.30 $9.70 $9.88 $0.50 $9.50 $9.64
151.5$0.18 $9.82 $9.92 $0.30 $9.70 $9.76
140.5$0.06 $9.94 $9.96 $0.10 $9.90 $9.88
13.500$10.00 $10.00 $0.00 $10.00 $10.00
12-1.5$10.00 $9.93 $10.00 $9.93
11-2.5$10.00 $9.86 $10.00 $9.86
10-3.5$10.00 $9.79 $10.00 $9.79
9-4.5$10.00 $9.72 $10.00 $9.72
8-5.5$10.00 $9.65 $10.00 $9.65


What about the 2011 harvest for Soybeans?  This season will likely present a challenge due to the shrink and swell with frequent rains.  More than ever as soon as the beans are in the harvestable stage they should be prioritized over any other crop on the farm( in my opinion).  This is due to the high potential for harvest loss. Also the likelyhood of dusting is high so operators and workers should be protected from the dust created during harvest with respirators to rule out any possibility of infection in the respiratory tract of the worker.


Tips for keeping combine losses low                     Adapted from the fact sheet that Charles W. Shay, Lyle Ellis and William Hires produced from the Missouri Department of Agricultural Engineering  http://muextension.missouri.edu/xplor/agguides/agengin/g01280.htm



Your best guide for correct combine adjustment is your operator's manual.
Remember that more than 80 percent of the machine loss usually occurs at the gathering unit. The following suggestions will help keep these losses to a minimum.
  • Make sure that knife sections, guards, wear plates and hold-down clips are in good condition and properly adjusted.
  • Use a ground speed of 2.8 to 3.0 miles per hour. To determine ground speed, count the number of 3-foot steps taken in 20 seconds while walking beside the combine. Divide this number by 10 to get the ground speed in miles per hour.
  • Use a reel speed about 25 percent faster than ground speed. For 42-inch-diameter reels, use a reel speed of 11 revolutions per minute for each 1-mile-per-hour ground speed.
  • Reel axle should be 6 to 12 inches ahead of the cutter bar. Reel bats should leave beans just as they are cut. Reel depth should be just enough to control the beans.
  • A six-bat reel will give more uniform feeding than a four-bat reel.
  • Complete the harvest as quickly as possible after beans reach 15 percent moisture content.
  • A pick-up type reel with pick-up guards on the cutter bar is recommended when beans are lodged and tangled.
For a specific methods and sheet to take to the field refer to this publication and enter your own information. You may also call me directly for copy to have on hand.

Adapted from the fact sheet that Charles W. Shay, Lyle Ellis and William Hires produced from the Missouri Department of Agricultural Engineering

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