Unusual situation

Friday, September 21, 2012

We harvested soybeans the past couple days, working the river bottoms on Wednesday, and the fields around Wheatland, Indiana yesterday.  We had some sprinkles of rain yesterday about noon, but it was not enough rain to make the soybeans too ‘tough’ to cut.  When a farmer says the beans are ‘tough’, he means they have some moisture or dampness in the stalks and pods, making them go through the combine less smoothly.  You hear the crop mat inside the machine rumble and bump more when the beans are tough.  By dark, the beans were not tough anymore, and were cutting really nicely again.

A really weird thing is occurring to the soybeans in this drought year.  In most areas of the fields, the beans are maturing normally and the stalks are dry and brown.  But in other areas, the stems are green, and some even have green leaves clinging.  In those areas, it raises the moisture level of the crop mat going through the machine, and it is really ‘tough’.  But, the weird thing is that the grain is dry, testing from 9.5% to 11.5% moisture, when “dry” is 13%!

One result of having some beans with sappy stalks and leaves is that it makes some of the internal workings of the combine sticky.  That stickiness combines with the dust, and in some places, it builds up a layer of dirt that causes problems.  I had just such an occurence yesterday.  The 9770 has a 15-inch long grain pan beneath the concave, between the inclined auger-bed under the concave, and leading to the chaffer of the cleaning shoe.  That grain pan has a zig-zag serrated surface that moves grain rearward as it oscillates back and forth.  When that pasty dirt build-up obliterated the serrations on the grain pan, the beans would not move rearward as needed.  It took me several hours to figure this out.  I tried speeding up the cleaning fan, but it did not solve the problem.  Finally, I opened up the side of the separator, looked inside at the internal parts, and discovered this problem.  We had to remove the big plastic panels on both sides of the separator to gain access to the grain pan.  Fortunately, I had John here to help.  I could reach the left half of the grain pan to scrape it clean with a long screwdriver, but I needed his help to scrape the right side.   After that, the 9770 worked like a charm again, putting all the grain in the tank, and not sprinkling some on the ground!  It probably took me a little too long to figure out just what was wrong with the combine, but it feels good to finally solve the problem.  It was a new one for me, another learning experience.

Ross had a bearing go out on his tailings elevator near the end of the day yesterday, and after trying to diagnose the problem for a couple hours in the field, he brought his combine home to the shop.  He will have ample opportunity to fix it this morning, for the dew is very heavy, and it will be hours before the beans are dry enough to start the harvest.  In fact, this will be a two-trip-to-Hoefling’s-for-parts breakdown.  Occasionally, there is a problem with the combines.  They are very expensive and complicated machines, but they are made by the hands of men, so they are not failure-proof.  Even so, I must say that they really are more reliable than they used to be.

Rain is predicted for this afternoon, but the weekend forecast is great!  If the rain really does happen today, I can see us changing over to pick corn until the fields are sufficiently dry to harvest beans again.

Have a good weekend.


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