What is in this article?:
- Combine specialist John Aubin shares common combine problems and solutions during alfalfa seed harvest.
- Combine functions - cutting and feeding, thrashing, separating, cleaning, grain handling, and residue management.
- Important to ensure combine elevator chains are working properly to deliver quality grain to the grain tank.
GATHERED for the Combine Clinic for alfalfa seed production held in El Centro, Calif. in July include from left: Sam Wang, University of California (UC) Desert Research and Extension Center, El Centro; Oli Bachie, UC Cooperative Extension, Holtville; Kevin Grizzle, alfalfa seed grower, El Centro; John Aubin (instructor), Combine Harvesting Solutions, Lewisville, Texas; and Jose Arias, Forage Genetics, Napa, Idaho.
#2 - Thrashing - This occurs in the combine’s concave area where the seed pod is separated from the plant stalk. A common thrashing problem is that not all plant material is thrashed. This occurs with uneven crop flow from the header.
“This amounts to lost yield which translates into lost potential profit for the grower,” Aubin said.
Adjust the concave per the manufacturer’s recommendations and make sure the platform feeds properly.
#3 - Separating – Thrashing and separating occur simultaneously in the concave area. The operator seeks maximum seed separation and breaking larger stalk pieces into smaller ones. From the separation area, seed and small chaff move through the combine into the cleaning system.
Following the manufacturer’s settings helps keep larger plant material in the rotor area for discharge later on the ground.
“Make sure the concave opening is set at the optimal position and the rotor speed is set at the optimum speed,” Aubin said. “This creates maximum thrashing and separation with the least amount of grain damage.”
A common problem during thrashing and separating is the operator tends to make adjustments to the concave opening and adjusts the rotor speed at the same time. When results are not obtained, the question is which one of the adjustments caused the undesired result.
Aubin suggests, “Make one adjustment at a time to determine of this alone resolves the problem. If not, then make the second adjustment.”