Scout Fields, Check Combine For Better Yields And Safe Harvest

Evaluating no-till stands, residue and equipment can help you improve profitability at harvest-time this fall and for years to come.

Harvest last year was a real challenge for many no-tillers as crops didn’t dry out and harvest was late. In many cases, this didn’t allow much time during the harvest to assess overall no-till management.

Hopefully, harvest will be on a more normal time frame this year, but regardless, it’s still worth spending some time in fields just before harvest. This will let you evaluate and record how your management decisions worked out.

Going through combine wear points and settings can also benefit your no-till system. Correcting wear areas and adjusting settings now will help minimize combine downtime and help maximize its performance.

Try to minimize crop losses. Manage and process residue uniformly to prepare for next year’s planting season.

Stand Evaluation And Ear Fill


Now is a good time to assess final stands and ear count and their uniformity. (See accompanying photo.)

If the uniformity of ears and stands falls short of expectations, keep a close eye on your crop from the combine. Think about what changes to make for next year’s planting and fertility program.

Managing Residue And Equipment

Before harvesting, check to see how well you managed residue in previous years. Managing residue properly should consist of:

Spreading material evenly and along the full width of the header or platform.

Using aggressive corn stalk rolls, usually with knives for no-till.

Harvesting only as low as necessary to capture all the ears, but as high as possible to leave stalks standing to reduce ground cover.

Adjusting the pitch…

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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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