Thursday, November 12, 2015

October: The Month of Corn Harvest

Welcome to the October installment of my Month-By-Month blog series.  (You can find a recap of the rest of the year's activities at the end of this post.)

We finished soybean harvest the first week of October, which continued the early progression we have been experiencing since we began combining crops in July.  Once we completed soybeans, my husband went to work putting the corn header on the combine.  Two days later we were harvesting corn.

The header is the piece of equipment that cuts the crop and feeds it into the combine.  It is considered a separate piece of machinery from the actual combine.  Each brand requires a matching brand of header.  Since we have a new combine this year which is a different manufacturer than our older ones, we had to also get new headers.  (Some headers have the ability to be outfitted with special kits to be used on other brands of combines.)

Claas eight row corn header matches the combine.

Corn requires a unique header to be used just for that crop.  The header we use is spaced for eight rows.  This matches up to our planter which is spaced at the same row width, but with sixteen rows.  We do not use a sixteen row header because of the large volume of corn moving through the combine when it is harvested.

Harvest requires a minimum of three people: one in the combine, one grain cart driver, and one truck driver who rotates between two trucks with semi trailers.  When everything is running the way it should, the system is a well oiled machine.

Corn header and combine harvesting the crop.

The header cuts the crop and the combine processes the grain.  These elaborate pieces of machinery complete what used to be multiple, labor-intensive tasks (hence the term "combine").

The tractor driver with the grain cart pulls along side so the combine to empty the hopper located inside of the combine.  Our grain cart can hold about 2-3 hoppers from the combine, depending on the amount of grain.

Combine emptying corn into the grain cart while on-the-go.

The tractor driver brings the grain cart to the semi truck and unloads it into the trailer.
The truck driver delivers the full trailer to our grain bin lot near home to put the grain in the bin for storage, while leaving the other empty trailer at the field to be filled while he is gone.

This process is repeated from sunup to sundown - unless the moisture content in the corn is too high for storage and would spoil in the grain bin.  Then we have to use a grain dryer that heats the grain to the point where the percentage of moisture is brought down to a safe level (usually around 15%, depending on how long we are planning to store it).

We are fortunate to have a dryer, but I am going to be honest and say I really dislike when we do have to use it.  Our dryer is not very large, so the amount of grain it can move is slower than the speed at which we can harvest it off the field.  It creates a bottleneck, and can really slow down harvest if we need to use it.  By the time corn harvest rolls around, we have already been combining for three months straight and I am ready to be DONE.

Harvest is one of the most exhausting times of the year, but it is also the most rewarding.  Getting the matured crop off of the field is one of the last steps in farming.  Here is a summary of the other activities this year:

Until next month,



  1. Great informative post! Thanks for linking up!!
    So glad harvest was done early this year :-)

  2. Thanks! Harvest was a breeze compared to some years.