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Michigan Soybean teaches  minimizing losses
 
By MELISSA HART
Michigan Correspondent 

JONESVILLE, Mich. — Soybean harvest is under way after a drought-stricken summer, so the Michigan soybean checkoff, Soybean Management and Research Technology and Michigan State University Cooperative Extension Service hosted the Soybean Harvest Equipment and Plot Tour at the Andy Welden Farm in Jonesville Sept. 20.

Farmers from across southern Michigan gathered to see if they could get an edge on higher profits after a sweltering summer with minimal rainfall. Local growers Mark and Pat Kies of Allen and Tim Godfrey of Jonesville brought their combines out, while new-equipment dealers also provided combines and Crary Industries provided a draper head for a day of demonstrations.

After an information-packed morning and a complimentary lunch, the combines took the stage as farmers watched new technology perform in the draper heads, auger flex heads and one combine with an air-assisted reel. After the combines worked through approximately 60 yards of beans, they stopped and performed loss checks of each machine.

Company representatives from Godfrey Brothers John Deere of Jonesville, Burnips Equipment New Holland of Hudson and Wells Equipment Case IH of Litchfield talked about each combine and answered questions as the soybean losses were measured. When the loss checks were completed, they discussed adjustments that could be made to the heads to minimize such losses.
Experienced farmers also offered their advice. Andy Welden said of this year’s crop, “The beans are so short; they are shorter than the tines, so it’s harder to get the reel to work properly.”

Godfrey discussed his combine with the air-assist reel and said it was new last year. He said they were blessed with 50-60 bushels per-acre beans last year so they didn’t have a significant difference in yield, no matter what adjustment they made with the air reel because the beans were tall.

He said this season would be the payoff year because the beans are so short. At the time of the field day he had not started his bean harvest.

On average, harvest losses reduce marketable soybean yields by 5 percent. Due to the drought and heavy two-spotted spider mite infestations, harvest losses have been significantly higher this fall. The drought has reduced overall plant height and the height of the lowest pods on the plants.

Both of these conditions increase the potential for gathering losses at the combine head. The pods are more brittle, so shatter losses are also more likely to occur in fields that have been stressed by spider mites.

MSU educator and facilitator of the day, Mike Staton, said, “The reason we are focusing on the header of the combine is because 80 to 90 percent of your yield loss occurs at the header; that’s why we are really focusing there.”

When all the combine loss checks were completed, Staton asked for discussion from farmers to discover where the bean loss was coming from. He concluded the day by thanking growers and sponsors, then encouraged the producers to focus on finding from where their losses are coming and reducing them.
11/1/2012