USDA is calling for record corn and soybean yields, and producers need to make sure they prepare their grain system before a bin-busting harvest.
“We’re at the point if we let the equipment not be ready, we’re going to spend that first week fixing, repairing and taking care of problems that could have been taken care of beforehand,” said Gary Woodruff, GSI district manager and grain conditioning expert.
Woodruff said another problem is COVID. It’s creating issues with the supply chain.
“We’re not seeing things come as quick as normal,” he said. “We’ve prepared as well as we can—we try to have parts. My dealers have tried to have parts on hand, but this is the year that we could find ourselves in a position that something is more difficult to get. You may find yourself with some downtime.”
So what do growers need to do to prepare their grain system ahead of harvest? One of the big things for Woodruff is electrical control boxes.
“They’re something that tends to be closed and out of mind,” said Woodruff. “We’re using the switches, we’re not going inside the box. They also are in a really bad environment—possible water, debris. All things come back to is the cleaner the control box, the more likely it’s going to get you through the season.”
Woodruff has been seeing a lot of mold in the field, and says it’s especially important to make sure your systems are ready.
“We’re going to see some real challenges in harvest, and we’ve got to be prepared for them and be ready for them,” he said. “Mold means you’ve got to take a different stance on how early you harvest the crop, but it also may take and change what moisture level you go to and how you store it in the bin.”
He offers the following maintenance recommendations:
• Remember to shut off all power and use safe practices, including “lock-out/tag-out” procedures.
• Carefully inspect and clean all of the control boxes and any other sensors. If any component looks questionable, replace it. Starting a dryer or any electrically driven device on a wet fall day with dirt or bee wings in the box is a recipe for disaster.
• Check all belts for proper tension and replace any belt that looks questionable in any way.
• Inspect chains and drives for tension and lubricate.
• Remove any debris from inside and outside the dryer, auger, drag and bin.
• Lubricate all greasable bearings on dryers, conveyors and other equipment.
• Make sure safety cages are secure, and that all safety shields on motor drives and dump points are in good condition.
• If any wearable components such as augers, bearings, belts or sensors show damage or are even nearing failure, replace them. In an extended harvest, all of these will likely fail, and there can be extended down time that you can’t afford this fall.