Monday, October 12, 2020

Combining Beans - First Field is Done

As the combine (a Deere 9560sts w/625F head) is new to me, I'm still working out the settings to try and get the best grain sample. The interaction of the head with the concaves, rotor, fan, chaffer, and seives in the combine is complicated.

We've always known that the end rows were compacted. Seeing how the foxtail, which likes wet, compact soil, thrives there makes the problem easy to see. This is an ongoing issue with at least half of our ground. All the heavy equipment turning around over the decades has had an impact. [punny, no?] With conventional/chemical, the herbicide would knock back the foxtail so that the beans would have a chance to get ahead of the weeds. Even if they grew poorly there, they had a chance. Now that it's organic, I'll have to do something different. It's been suggested that I put it in hay/grass.  I could have it mowed off/hayed by a neighbor, but not all the end rows are accessible without going through the cash crop. 

Once all the beans are off we'll chisel plow the end rows to try and "open them up". Next year the bean ground will be in wheat, underseeded with red clover. I might leave the clover in the end rows for a couple of years, hoping that its roots can break up some more of the compacted ground.

This slick animation shows how the crop flows through the combine. 

It rained last night, so we'll have to wait a couple of days before going back to combine the remaining 60 acres of beans. In the meantime I'm trying to get some turkey litter to spread (at 2 tons/acre or a little less than 200 tons total) on the soybean residue for next years wheat. Time for coffee and phone calls.


  1. thanks for posting these videos. Interesting view from the cab -- i'm surprised at how much space is between the rows of beans that you can see from on height. Its a little bit like how much more of a prairie pasture you can see from horseback rather than from walking it (although i am a walker, not a rider -- trade-offs!).

    1. Hi - Yes it looks like a lot of room, both at harvest and planting, when I plant on 30" rows. This lets me row cultivate in between the rows for weeds until the plants "canopy", or grow big enough/close enough together to block the sunlight from the dirt in between the rows. As the plant dies, it drops its leaves, with only the dried stalk remaining. In a conventional/chemical system you can sometimes plant on 15" rows with a drill. However there's no good way to control weeds when you do that. There is a technique of drilling winter rye in the spring, which since it didn't vernalize, will die out as the beans you drill/plant at the same time, take off. However research has shown this is tough to do when you have heavy foxtail pressure. Lots of possibilities though.

  2. just watched the animation. I think on your next visit to Enterprise you will want to visit Earl McLaughlin's implement collection "Sunrise Iron". You will be fascinated to look at some of the 100 year old threshers operated.

  3. Ahoy Bruce - Great videos...been watching the weather and knew you had a perfect stretch there for a while. Wish I could get up there and help you. Be in touch - JW