SOUTHWEST, N.Y. — Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program (SWNYDLFC) discuss a few ways to clean harvest equipment before storing it away for the winter.
For many growers in Southwest New York, fall harvest is coming to an end. Now is the time to prepare harvest equipment for winter storage. Proper preparation reduces the likelihood of animals nesting in the equipment which can lead to electrical damage resulting in fire, improves the function and longevity of parts, and puts a closure to the 2020 growing season. In addition, it’s important to prevent weeds, diseases, and insects from moving into new fields next harvest season. Palmer amaranth, a problematic weed throughout the United States, is now present in Southwest NY and can spread very easily on harvest equipment due to the extremely small seed. Crop diseases, such as white mold of soybeans, travels on crop debris, and insects like Soybean Cyst Nematode can be present in dirt or mud and spread from field-to-field on machinery tires. Combine clean-outs are time consuming and a significant undertaking, but something that all famers should consider after harvest. Always be safe and wear personal protective equipment while cleaning equipment.
Proper post-harvest preparation includes cleaning all parts of the combine, including the head, feeder-house, rock trap, concaves, cleaning shoes, elevators, grain bin, unloading auger, chopper, rear axle, and chassis before entering storage. Here are a few things to consider for complete clean-out of your combine. Prior to leaving the field, perform a self-cleaning process (run the unloading auger, open elevator doors, drive on headland rows, etc.) which will help remove as much debris as possible. This can save time and help avoid extra clean-up back that the farm. At the farm, vacuum the grain bin and clean out the unloading auger to help reduce the potential for rodent infestations during the winter months; even raccoons have been found in unloading augers of combines in Western NY. You can then remove the head (if you haven’t already) and access panels to clean the feederhouse, rotors and threshing area with compressed air followed by a vacuum if needed. These are areas where weed seed can be easily lodged so compressed air will help remove it from the combine. Next, open the sieves to their maximum width and remove the covers of the bottom cross augers, if present. Significant crop debris and foreign material can get caught in the sieves and should be removed by using compressed air. Then clean the elevators and moisture sensor before reassembling the combine. Lastly, it’s very important to power wash the combine to remove any dirt, mud, or dust to ensure the longevity of the equipment. Additionally, don’t forget to clean the heads and header carts before storing away for the winter.
A full clean-out is an important end-of-season practice and should be considered by all producers. Some fields in Southwest NY were extremely weedy this fall and should be documented to ensure proper management next spring and summer. A full combine clean-out protocol is available at the North Central Agriculture and Natural Resource Academy. If you have questions about combine clean-out or notice a field with significant pest pressure, contact Josh Putman at 716-490-5572 or email@example.com.
Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program specialists are here to help provide research-based resources and support during this challenging time. Their team of four specialists includes Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Farm Business Management (716-640-0522 or firstname.lastname@example.org); Joshua Putman, Field Crops (716-490-5572 or email@example.com); Alycia Drwencke, Dairy Management (517-416-0386 or firstname.lastname@example.org); and Amy Barkley, Livestock Management (716-640-0844 or email@example.com). While specialists are working remotely at this time, they are still offering consultations via phone, text, email, videoconferencing, and mail. They are also providing weekly updates with timely resources and connections via email and hardcopy and virtual programming. For more information, or to be added to their notification list, contact Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Team Leader, at 716-640-0522, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website swnydlfc.cornell.edu.
The Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program is the newest Cornell Cooperative Extension regional program and covers Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Steuben Counties. The Southwest New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops regional specialists work with Cornell faculty and Extension educators to address the issues that influence the agricultural industry in New York by offering educational programming and research based information to agricultural producers, growers, and agribusinesses in the Southwestern New York Region. Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities.
–Josh Putman, Field Crops Specialist
with the SWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program
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