Now is the time to get the equipment out and start prepping for harvest in order to prevent downtime in the fields. Some local service experts share tips to prepare for the upcoming harvest season.
1Give it a once-over
Roll that combine out of the shed and start taking note of what needs attention before it’s time to get in the fields. “Don’t wait until the crop is ready to think about machine repairs,” said Conrad Amstutz, of Sterling Farm Equipment in Wooster. “Do maintenance checks and repairs ahead of time to make sure you are ready to go.”
Those checks include checking combine knives and guards, grain platforms, corn heads and belts.
Think back to last year’s harvest (or other harvests) and try to remember if there were any problems with equipment that held up the harvest. The service team at Witmer’s Inc., in Columbiana, suggests making sure to address those potential issues now to make sure they don’t happen again this year.
3Order parts now
If you need parts, equipment dealers suggest ordering them now. Amstutz said he has had many farmers come in just days before harvest or during harvest in need of parts the store did not have in stock or not enough of. It may be a good time to take advantage of dealer specials to stock up, said Greg Unkefer, of Unkefer Equipment in Minerva. Also, a rush of farmers to the equipment counter at the start of harvest could mean headaches for both farmer and mechanic. “If everyone calls at once, we can’t get to everyone at once,” said Robert Cope, of Cope Farm Equipment.
4Guidance and mapping
Just like that pop-up on your smartphone telling you it is time for a software upgrade, most equipment today has software that needs a yearly update (or more). Software glitches can often be fixed with a quick satellite update, explained Cope.
5Back it up
No, this is not referring to hitching up to the grain cart. Just like your laptop computer, the new technology in a combine or tractor needs to be backed up on a regular basis. Cope recommends backing up information daily during harvest (maybe even a couple times a day), especially when dealing with a lot of acreage. If it would crash mid-harvest, you could lose all yield data from the day before if it wasn’t properly backed up, explained Cope.
Sources: Sterling Farm Equipment, Wooster; Witmer’s Inc., Columbiana; Unkefer Equipment, Minerva; Cope Farm Equipment, Alliance.
(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
More Farming 101 columns:
- 5 things young farmers should know about finances
- The farm balance sheet
- 5 items for your farm’s cash flow statement
- Personal and business records: Keep them separate
- What to include in your farm business plan
- How to approach a lender: Tips for getting a farm loan
- How to use microloans to get your farm started
- Saving for the future: 6 tips for young farmers
- How to create a farm safety kit
- 5 tips for child safety on the farm
- 6 tips for livestock safety
- 4 tips for transporting livestock
- 5 ways to better understand tractor stability
- 6 farm equipment hacks
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As you mentioned, it is important to check back on last years harvest, and try to remember if there was anything that went wrong. I remember it seemed to take forever to harvest my fathers corn field last year. I wonder if there is a service we could hire to help us with that, so it doesn’t take as long.