Nearly 80% of harvest losses occur while cutting and gathering the plants into the combine. Most of these result from shattered pods dropping beans on the ground. The following recommendations will reduce gathering losses:
•Operate the combine at a slight angle (about 20 degrees) to the rows. This is especially beneficial with wide rows or plants with tough stems.
•Maintain ground speed at 3 mph or less. Higher speeds are reported to be possible when using draper heads, when an air system is added to the head, when using 1-1/2-inch knife sections or when the field was rolled. Pods stripped from the stalks and uneven stubble are signs that the travel speed is too high.
Set the speed of the reel to run 10 to 25% faster than the ground speed. For a reel with a diameter of 42 inches (most reels), this is nine to10 revolutions per minute for each mile per hour of ground speed.
If the beans are lodged, gradually increase the reel speed to a maximum of 50% faster than the ground speed (12 rpm/mph).
•Position the reel axle 6 to 12 inches ahead of the cutter bar. In most conditions, the reel should be positioned as close to the auger as possible to promote even feeding. If the beans are lodged, move the reel forward to pick up the plants. Ideally, the reel should leave the beans just as they are being cut.
•Set the height of the reel just low enough to control the beans (generally the top one-third of the plants). In lodged conditions, operate the reel as low as necessary to pick up the plants. Raise the reel if cut plants ride over the reel.
Measure gathering losses after each adjustment to determine your progress. Information on measuring soybean harvest losses is available from Michigan State University Extension website
and from the Michigan Soybean Checkoff website