As we bid farewell to the “winter that wasn’t” and await the green flag start of another new crop year, it’s a great opportunity to use the upcoming windshield time to ponder how to maximize the performance of your grain handling system.
The No. 1 rule: It’s all about the combine. If you break down the driving force behind every grain system’s primary purpose, it’s about keeping the combine running.
When the combine is sitting still, you are not happy. It means that somewhere down the line you have a bottleneck holding up your ability to harvest your crop and complete your post-harvest work.
Grain system maximization must start at the combine. Consider the amount of grain it is capable of injecting into your harvest process. Do the math and determine the bushels per hour harvested times the number of hours that you want to run each day.
Divide the number of bushels harvested by the size of the grain cart and/or truck(s) that will transport the grain to the receiving point to determine the number of trips. Factor in the distance you need to travel and the time needed to travel that distance.
Travel time is directly affected by how fast the receiving point can unload the transport vehicle. Receiving speed is directly impacted by pit size, handling equipment capacity, and the amount of wet holding capacity.
Wet holding capacity is directly impacted by the size and speed of the dryer, which is directly affected by the grain moisture. Drying capacity is also directly affected by whether you run your dryer at full heat or heat/cool.
Grain dried with full heat needs time to steep and eventually be cooled to ambient temperature. Dry grain storage capacity and your ability to unload and ship the dry grain quickly, especially if you have a storage deficit, also can jam up the process.
Wherever the problem surfaces, the end result is always the same -- the combine is parked and you are waiting. Sound complicated? It isn’t really as difficult as it seems.
Grain system maximization is an exercise in logistics and well-rehearsed choreography. Every single component and step in the process has to be analyzed and considered for the part it plays. It all starts at the combine!
Your FS grain systems specialist is specifically trained to assist in analyzing and identifying your system’s bottlenecks to keep your combine running.
Randy Holthaus is GROWMARK’s grain systems operations manager. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org