Reduce Potential Losses

Harvest Loss Prevention Comes With A Keen Eye

Reducing losses at harvest requires a combination of due dilligence and attention to agronomic conditions.

Take time to effectively calibrate your yield monitor to assess performance. An accurate and reliable data set will prepare you for success next year.

Make sure that moisture is available for harvest. Overly dry seeds risk injury and shattering during harvest.

Check that the correct settings are in place for all equipment. Improper reel speed and position can lead to shattering and large yield losses.

Select the proper thresher speed. A slower threshing speed can decrease threshing severity and minimize split damage.

Limit forward speed to 2.5 to 3.0 miles per hour. Slower speeds can reduce shatter and stubble losses and maximize yield potential.

Green stem syndrome can cause significant yield loss. To manage, it may be necessary to wait until after a killing frost if possible.

Stress at different times during soybean development can have various impacts on soybean appearance, such as wrinkled seed coats and green beans.

Measuring Harvest Loss

  • Harvest loss is determined by counting the number of beans on the ground in a 10 square foot area.
  • Forty beans found within 10 square feet is approximately one bushel per acre loss.
  • Make loss determinations at several locations and calculate an average.

Benefits of a Timely Harvest

  • A common rule of thumb is that grain handling facilities desire soybeans with moisture content lower than 13 percent.
  • Harvesting quickly after the crop reaches an optimum harvest moisture content of 14 to 15 percent can help maximize grain weight and minimize yield losses.
    • This should occur 5 to 10 days after 95 percent of the pods have reached their mature color under good drying conditions.
  • If air drying is available, harvest could start at 17 to 18 percent moisture content.
  • Try to harvest as much of your crop as possible before the moisture level falls below 12 percent to reduce splits and cracked seed coats.
  • Shatter losses have been shown to increase significantly when seed moisture falls below 11 percent and when mature beans undergo multiple wetting and drying cycles.
  • When soybean seed is extremely dry, (below 11 percent moisture), harvesting will cause more shattering and seed injury.
    • Under these conditions, harvest during morning or evening hours when relative humidity is higher and adjust the combine accordingly.
  • Moisture content will change from field to field, depending on planting dates, product maturity and time of day.
  • As you move from one field to another, recheck the moisture content and adjust your combine settings — moisture levels change more rapidly in soybeans than they do in corn.