Around the Farm – Much to do after harvest

Posted: December 14, 2022

Farmers have a half-joke; the best days of harvest are the day you start and the day it ends. This year that statement rings very true.

We finished harvest just after thanksgiving this year, and it was a challenging year with breakdowns but the yields were pretty good. Even though harvest is done, we still have a lot of work to do. In the fields, we finished up our tillage (both strip-till and rip-till).

The two biggest tasks after harvest are clean up and grain management.

Our equipment gets pretty dirty during harvest despite our best attempts to keep it clean and shiny. We start in our elevator by cleaning our grain dryer, which involves climbing all over it and getting all the corn out of every nook and cranny to prevent rust and mold. Once we have the dryer buttoned up for the winter we clean up all around the facility and put down clean fresh limestone before the snow.

In the shop we blow off the carts, tractors, and combine. Blowing off the combine is probably one of the itchiest jobs on the farm. We pull every shield and cover we can and try to get every bit of dirt, dust and grain off the machine. Then we pull it in for a good wash and scrubbing. It’s about a three-day job to get the combine clean enough to store. A deep cleaning helps prevent rust, mold and most importantly mice. The tractors and grain carts get the same treatment and all of the tractor cabs get detailed.

In the elevator keeping our grain in good condition is our highest priority. The first step in that process is coring the bins. When we load bins the corn falls from the conveyer above the bin onto the concrete or steel floor. The first corn in the bin tends to break from the impact and creates a pile of small chunks called fines. These fines can heat up and cause rotten corn, plugs of the unload system, and in extreme cases fires. In order to prevent this we open the gate on the bottom of the bin, unload some of the corn, run it through our cleaner, and put it back on top of the corn in another bin.

Each of our bins has temperature cables in it that read the grain temperature from top to bottom of the bin, This allows us to find any spot that is getting warm and use the fans at the top and bottom of the bin to keep the grain in really good condition. We try to keep the grain about two degrees above the ambient air temperature without getting it so cold that it freezes. If we get it down to 34-36 degrees in the winter we can store it for as long as we need as we gradually sell it over the course of the next few months. We have some grain to ship this month as well and moving grain slowly but consistently really helps keep things in good shape.

Once that’s all done we take some time off for rest and family time around the holidays.