We finished the last of the wheat and oats, and got 20% of the canola completed. The first week with no rain delays! We are now 62% completed – which is a pretty good pace for this time of year. The forecast looks to be warm and dry this week as well, hopefully we can make some more good progress.
The first few days into the canola was somewhat frustrating…we had a difficult time getting the X9’s set and calibrated properly. We use a Bushel Plus pan and test kit to measure losses. The pan is mounted with a magnet under the rear side of the combine. As the combine is actively harvesting, we press a button on a remote, and the pan drops. From that, we collect the sample on the pan, measure the weight of the seeds that are in that pan, and they have a calculator that then determines the loss in bushels per acre. In previous seasons with our S790’s we were able to get the combines set within a few hours, and more importantly, be confident in what our losses were at various speeds and rates of throughput (higher yielding, higher straw volume crops = slower speeds). Typically we would be in the 0.7-1.1 bu/ac loss with 0ur S790’s – at speeds of 2.1-2.5 mph in average crop conditions. This year being the first season with our X9’s, it didn’t seem to matter what we did, we just couldn’t get any consistency in our loss tests. One pan would show 0.6 bu/ac loss, and the very next drop pan with the same settings we would be at 1.7 bu/ac loss. Speed didn’t seem to correlate to loss either. Canola seed is small and hard to keep in the machine especially under dry straw conditions – and if you can’t trust what your losses on the combine are showing, your basically driving blind. On a crop that has such an economic impact to our farm, that is not acceptable.
The next day our dealer sent their specialist out – who looks after helping set combines for all their locations – and we spent the day dropping pans and checking various settings / speeds. Finally we were able to find a setting that was reliable, and more importantly, repeatable. The settings were completely different than what we had been trying – and it also required some modifications (different style concaves). We are now running between 3.2-4.0 mph with 45′ headers – which would be a significant increase in performance if we can maintain. We are still finding the losses vary outside of what the loss meters on the combines are showing, but we at least have a basis to start from now.