Harvesting

Last updated on February 23, 2014

Soybean for hay or silage

During the 1960s and 1970s soybean combine losses typically ranged from 5 to 19 percent with an average of 9 percent.

Combines were equipped with rigid heads. In the 1970s,John Deere introduced its row crop head with flexible, floating cutterbars. These combines only had losses of 2 to 4%.

Modern combines have poly-skid plates to reduce soil buildup, lateral floats to maintain low cutting heights and wider platform heads.

Harvest Losses

Normally 80 to 85% of soybean harvest losses are gathering losses.

Preharvest Losses

  • Variety
    • Plant varieties that are shatter resistant
    • Plant varieties differing in maturity
  • Weather: moisture loss can occur at a very rapid rate (up to 6% per day)
  • Timeliness
  • Not much can be done, except to harvest as rapidly as possible to prevent continued loss.

Gathering Losses

  • shatter losses by the header
  • stubble losses
  • stalk losses
  • lodge bean plants

Machine Losses

  • pods not threshed

How to Measure Harvesting Loss

  1. Drive combine into the crop. Backup about 20 to 30 feet.
  2. In frame that is 10 square feet (frame should equal combine platform width), count: 
    • loose beans, 
    • beans in pods on or off stalks, and 
    • beans in pods on the stubble
  3. Total beans divided by 40 = bushels lost per acre

Four soybeans per square foot = 1 bushel per acre

Acceptable loss = 3% of the yield or less.

Market Moisture

Drying costs for soybeans typically are 2 cents per point per bushel above 13% moisture

Drying soybeans usually increases seed coat cracking and splitting


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