Louis Melanson, Case IH Combine Product Specialist for Alberta and Saskatchewan, says that his customers are harvesting a bumper crop. Melanson, who has been with Case IH for 35 years, provides an update on harvest progress in his area.
Farmers have been harvesting in my area since the first week of September, starting with peas and wheat. Most producers still have about 40 percent left of their canola, barley and oats to harvest.
The weather has been beautiful up until a week ago when we started getting some rain. Now, growers can combine for a couple hours and then have to wait for it to dry up. We’re expecting good forecasts for the next couple weeks, so that should give farmers enough time to wrap up harvesting.
How is the weather affecting your harvest progress?
Case IH Axial-Flow® combines have had excellent performance, in spite of the challenges producers have had this year. Growers are experiencing a bumper crop. Some farmers are getting yields that they’ve never seen in all their years of farming. In my territory, average wheat yields are in the 40-50 bushels/acre range, but this year, producers are getting 70-85 bushels/acre.
This bumper crop brings about a special set of circumstances while harvesting. Because the crops are so dense, it’s very tough going for the combine. Growers who are used to driving 4.5-5 mph now have to take it at 3-3.5 mph, so it’s taking a little longer to get the crop out of the field.
With a bumper crop, the crops are heavier, so they get lodged down closer to the ground. When harvesting, producers have to position the combine to cut as close to the ground as possible. This means there’s an increased likelihood of the combine picking up rocks. I’ve seen many combines that have ingested rocks this year because of this heavier crop. However, Case IH Axial-Flow combines are equipped with dual slip clutch protection: one protects the feeder chain and the other protects the stone trap beater to prevent rock damage.
In addition to Case IH combines, Case IH Patriot® sprayers saw more action this season. Because crops are so dense, chemicals haven’t been working as well, so when farmers were spraying, they were more intense with application.
For growers in my area, Agronomic DesignSM provides some distinct advantages. For example, the accuracy provided with Case IH Advanced Farming Systems® autoguidance frees farmers from steering the combine so they can watch more closely for rocks. Also, when producers are unloading on the go, it’s much easier to unload in the grain cart without having to worry about steering.
The most beneficial agronomic benefit this year has been for growers to be able to see their total yield per acre on their yield monitor. When calibrated properly, farmers can use this to tell if they’re losing grain due to crop density. If the bushel count goes down, then producers know that the combine’s cleaning or rotor system isn’t capable of handling the high crop levels. In turn, growers can reduce their speed to prevent grain loss. This is a really good measuring tool, and it allows farmers to stay in the combine cab while making more money from that extra grain.
In my territory, the asset producers have got the most from is the feeder and rotor reversing capabilities from inside the cab. With this year’s heavy crops, the chance of plugging the combine is higher than in normal conditions. Being able to unplug the combine from the cab is much easier for growers.