ASK THE AGRONOMIST BLOG

Stine’s Ask the Agronomist blog is your source to the latest information from our expert team, including advice and insight on field practices, product recommendations, planting and harvest updates, new technologies, crop management, innovative research and information about how to keep your farm operation running smoothly year round. 

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    A Reminder this Harvest Season

    September 19, 2017

    Posted by Stine Seed in Harvest

    It’s National Farm Safety and Health Week! With harvest underway in some parts of the country, Stine wants to help everyone have a safe and successful harvest season. Whether you’re working on machinery, driving from field to field or putting long hours in the combine, you must always be alert. Here are five tips to stay safe this harvest season:

    1. Be careful on the road. Make sure all lights and flashers work properly, keep an eye out for animals and watch for drivers who may not be watching for you. Try to avoid busy roads during rush hour. If needed, discuss a route with your local police department to choose a safe path between your fields.
    2. Communication is key. Make sure your team communicates frequently and set an emergency plan in place that all employees are aware of and know how to implement. Walk through the emergency plan with all members before harvest begins.
    3. Limit riders. Limit riders on equipment and make sure extra passengers are in a safe seat. Do not let passengers ride on fenders, hitches or attachments. While it’s nice to have family keep you company during harvest, it’s best to take them out in the combine or other farm machinery in separate trips. If the cab is too crowded, it may make it difficult to operate. Always remember, safety first.
    4. Be safe around the bin. Never enter a bin when unloading equipment, such as an auger, is running, and do not enter a bin with automatic unloading equipment unless the control circuit is locked out. Always have a helper nearby when entering a grain bin. Avoid wearing loose clothing around the equipment. 
    5. Be aware of your own limits. If you’re becoming fatigued after long hours in the combine, this may cause an accidental injury when using farm equipment. Stay alert, and if you feel yourself drifting, it’s time to take a break. Be sure to take care of yourself; don’t miss a meal, get some sleep, know when you need a break and stay hydrated.

    When out in the field, the days get long and your attention may start to wane. Be aware of your own limits, be aware of your surroundings and always have an emergency plan in place. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Stine wishes everyone a safe and successful harvest season. For more tips on harvest safety, contact your local Stine sales rep.

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    Stine® HP Corn®— Setting the Industry Standard

    September 12, 2017

    Posted by Stine Seed in High-Population Corn

    The path to consistently reaching 300-plus bushels per acre corn is more a reality now than ever before. Stine’s extensive research in high-population, narrow-row corn has developed hybrids that are setting the industry standard for high-population planting.

    Although Stine® HP Corn® can take many forms, in many cases these hybrids are shorter-than-average with more upright leaf structure, allowing them to catch more sunlight. Hybrids adapted for higher populations also tend to have excellent stalk strength for superior standability, and superior disease resistance even when planted in high-population environments. And the shorter HP Corn hybrids also produce less biomass than taller corn plants, allowing them to use water more efficiently. These features not only make HP Corn more cost effective, but also ensure more efficient use of each acre. The end result — higher yields.

    HP Corn can work well in a variety of row widths, but the hybrids really thrive in Stine’s Twin 20-inch rows. How does it work? The twin rows are based on 20-inch centers, with 12 inches of spacing between rows and 8 inches separating each pair of twin rows. This planting configuration provides two key benefits. First, since this configuration results in an average 10-inch row spacing, growers can make even more efficient use of each and every acre. Second, this system makes the concept of HP Corn even more accessible by allowing growers to harvest their crop with a standard 20-inch row corn head.

    To learn more about HP Corn and the HP Twin 20 Planting System, talk to your local Stine representative or visit our website

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    Combine Maintenance and Preparations

    September 06, 2017

    Posted by Doug Score in Harvest

    Upgrading to a newer combine can provide a grower with increased capacity, improved functionality and less downtime. However, current grain prices are forcing growers to find ways to cut costs, including keeping their old equipment a little longer. With any equipment, routine maintenance is key to keeping the equipment operating efficiently. And with the start of harvest season almost upon us, combine maintenance should be at top of mind for growers.

    Here are a few tips for combine maintenance and preparations.

    • A quick walk around, checking fluid levels, tire pressure, etc.
    • Then begin oil changes, in addition to air, fuel and filter changes. It’s good to note the hour and date with a marker on filters.
    • Grease all zerks, and note the machine hour of the service activity in the book (some are every 400 hours).
    • Turn on all lights and strobes to ensure they operate.
    • Prior to startup, make sure all safety guards, fire extinguishers and safety switches are in working order (neutral start switch, thrashing seat switch, etc.).
    • While the combine is running, check all cab monitors to see that they work and respond properly.
    • Engage the threshing system, listen for any unusual sounds and indications of wear or imbalance. You may even notice some rodents scatter! 
    • Prior to shutting down the machine, set your concaves to 0, note all sieve settings (if applicable) and block the head cylinder in the up position.

    For the next few steps, turn off machine and disconnect battery.

    • Check that the feeder house chain is the right tension and the bars are straight and secured.
    • Check the feeder house drum for dents, and ensure that it rolls smoothly.
    • Check the floor of the feeder house to ensure that it is free of holes and cracks, minimizing grain loss.
    • If applicable, double check the reverser’s oil level.
    • Walk around the entire machine, checking for cracked belts and excessively worn chains. Replace if needed, and adjust tensions on chains and belts if they are out of range.
    • Open the concave or rotor compartment. Check that all rasp bars, threshing elements and tines are present and are not chipped or bent.
    • Check around the rotor/cylinder compartment, and the bottom side of the grain tank for excess wear holes where grain can be lost. Welding or inserting liners may be needed in these cases.
    • Whether new or used, this step is most commonly overlooked. The concave was set to zero in the previous steps. Make sure there is no clearance between the concave and rasp/threshing elements. You can do this by rolling the machine by hand. If there is clearance, adjust the concaves to the proper setting. 
    • While on the ground, check that the clean grain elevator/auger, clipping elevator chains and flightings are in good operating condition. Also, while working low, check for holes or excessive wear at the clean grain trough and underbody pans.
    • Moving to the back of the machine, check that all chopper blades and knives are in place and in good working condition.
    • While in the back of the machine, check that the cleaning shoe is free of debris and allows air flow from the fan.
    • Finally, up top, check the load and unload augers for excessive wear and replace, if necessary.