As you roll your way through your fields this fall, will your harvester be your very best and most reliable friend, or your most frustrating, most costly, most let-you-down-at-the-worst-possible-time adversary? That answer depends a lot on how you treat your machine in the lead-up to, during, and after each harvest.
Tip 1: Prepare for success
You harvester will only perform at its best if you’ve ensured it is ready for success. Carefully inspect, lubricate and test your machine enough in advance of harvest that you can fix any outstanding issues with room to spare and roll into harvest with confidence.
Tip 2: Change your harvesting vs: maintenance mindset
Once harvest begins and every hour counts, making time to clean and inspect equipment daily can feel like an impossible cost. However, maintaining your harvester during harvest will ultimately save you time, money and frustration. Yes, in-field breakdowns happen to all farmers. That said, they happen far less to farmers who clean, maintain and best support their equipment all year, especially during harvest.
After each day of digging, clean off mud and vines. Inspect chain webs, watching for bent rods, broken rivets, and worn connector clips or connector rods. Check web apron drive sprockets and bearings for excessive wear. Test rollers for smooth rolling: rust and vines can cause strain and drag. Check and tighten all roller chains. Check U-joints, greasing and replacing as necessary.
Tip 3: Give extra TLC when conditions require
Difficult harvest conditions aren’t only hard on farmers — they’re hard on equipment too. Mud strips lubrication, stretches aprons, pulls on every sprocket, rod and chain, and ages equipment before its time. Inspect extra carefully in wet conditions, components that wouldn’t wear out in dry conditions will wear quickly in muddy ground. And, remember that rollers and U-joints will need extra lubrication in heavy conditions.
Tip 4: Done? Not quite
Before you take a well-earned moment to breathe out post-harvest, give your machine the care it needs.
Brushing off loose dirt and vines is preferable to washing before storing as a wet machine may not dry enough in cool conditions, potentially causing rust issues. As you clean, write a list of anything that needs fixing or replacing. Not only does a list mean you easily jump on wintertime parts specials, it also means you won’t be scrambling for parts pre-harvest next year. Pay extra attention to checking hoses and seals. Loosen your slip clutches so they don’t rust tight over the winter. Inspect slip clutch pads; replace if necessary.
Tip 5: Proper storage matters
If you’d like your harvester to work next year, indoor storage is truly the only option.