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Source: WestBred news release

Preparing for Harvest

When it comes to wheat harvest, the best way to bring your season to a strong finish is to be diligent and ready. And while there's a lot going on around harvest time, proper preparation and pre-harvest management is key to a smooth harvest. Read on for some must-dos from James Gillum, Technical Product Manager for WestBred wheat, before and during harvest.

Perform Equipment Checks and Maintenance

The quickest way to sour your harvest is for your combine to break down. While a breakdown here or there may seem unavoidable, performing maintenance before pulling into the first field will cut down on time lost due to equipment troubles. Checking belts and gears for excessive wear, replacing dull knives, greasing thoroughly and ensuring engines are running smoothly will help reduce the stress of mid-harvest breakdowns. If you didn't have a chance to service your combine after the last harvest, consider the conditions you were running in - if corn harvest was wet, check for mud buildup. If soybean harvest was dry, make sure to blow out or replace any air filters.

Clear Out the Storage Facility

Be sure to clean your storage facility about three to four weeks before harvest begins if you plan to store your grain on-farm. This way, when it comes time to store your grain, you'll have a clean space that will help prevent any spoiling. You can start by sweeping away and removing any old and spoiled grain, which will likely be contaminated with insects-as well as seal any cracks or gaps to keep out moisture and additional pests. You should also inspect the areas surrounding the bin as they may be harboring pests. Another effective way to eliminate insects and keep them out of your grain after harvest is to use approved residual insecticides inside and outside the bins. These should be sprayed around two weeks before binning occurs.

Watch for Late-Season Weeds

In many regions, weeds like kochia, Palmer amaranth (pigweed) and marestail can grow aggressively late in the season and cause problems that may damage yield potential and make harvest difficult. A pre-harvest herbicide application can manage these weeds, but you'll need to pay close attention to the growth stage. Specifically, wheat should have green out of the nodes before you apply herbicides.

Be Ready When Your Wheat Is

Watch each field closely to see when they are ready-sometimes fields that are not on your normal travel routes don't get the same attention, and depending on the elevation and location, some fields may mature earlier than others. Watch your crop's progress toward harvest maturity by paying close attention to the color and the angle of the heads on the wheat. You should also know which varieties can be harvested later if weather becomes an issue. If you have varieties that tend to lodge, they need to be a priority. Wheat varieties that stand very well and maintain good test weight can be left for later harvest if weather complicates harvest schedules.

Minimize Grain Loss

While in the field, always be sure to check behind the combine for lost grain. Adjustments will need to be made if you find more than a few kernels behind the machine per square foot-keep in mind that 20 kernels per square foot equals about one bushel per acre. Not all grain found behind the machine will be coming from the combine-some may be from field shatter or header shatter. You should strive to have no more than one percent loss in the field from the combine header plus separator. To achieve this, take counts at several spots in the field before harvest and count any shattered grain. Do the same right behind the header. If you are getting too much shatter from the header reel, slow down or speed up the combine to match the reel speed. You can also move the reel back further over the table so if shattering occurs it will be in the header and not on the ground.

About WestBred Wheat
WestBred wheat provides seed suppliers and their growers access to the highest yield potential wheat seed, as well as testing, education, resources and experienced representatives to help maximize their yield potential.

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