Sunday, October 13, 2013

Soybean Harvest

This has been my view for the last several days and a few more to come. We started soybean harvest on October 1 and have logged eight days so far in the combine seat. I have a few more to go as we still have 320 acres or so to go. We can combine about 120 acres of soybeans a day if we can go all day. The picture above was in a field where the beans are planted in rows that are ridged for gravity irrigation. If you look close you will see green leaves still on the plants. This made combining very tough.

We also have many fields where the soybeans are drilled and there are no ridges. On these you can go whatever direction you want to go. GPS guidance systems make this job much easier and faster. We can always keep a full swath. When I have to steer by hand I always leave a couple of feet on the end of the head so I don't leave strips of beans uncut.

When the sun goes down you keep right on cutting, until the humidity comes up and stops you cold. One night I was tooling along at 3.5 mph at one end and when I finished the round I was crawling at 2 mph. The soybeans had gone from 9.5% moisture to 12% moisture in just one round.

We unload the combine on the go, saving time. A great day is where I can start combining in the morning and not stop the combine or get out of the cab, except for calls of nature, until night. Combines cost so much money (a new combine and head will cost around $500,000) that you can't afford the down time. Also we want to get the crops out as fast as possible as soon as they are ready for harvest. Nothing good can happen to them in the field once they are ripe.
Climate controlled cabs are not a luxury during harvest. This a shot of the same grain cart the same day, just going the opposite direction. The wind was blowing all the dust from the back of the combine up to the front. Soybean dust is very scratchy and not good in the lungs.

Here are three of our trucks used to haul the crops away to market. We run a fleet of five trucks. One has already left for the elevator and one was busy hauling hogs (a sideline business). Only three of the five are my trucks. The others belong to a neighbor. We share the combine and harvest crew to reduce our costs. It has worked out well for both of us.

When soybeans harvest is finished, hopefully this week, we will move immediately to corn harvest. This will take longer because we have more corn acres to harvest. I will post again then.