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He combines soybeans diagonally
Herald Barton, Silver Lake, Minn., has combined all of his 400 to 600 acres of soybeans diagonally for the past 15 years. He says it's the only way to harvest.
"I've found that all sections of the bean head actually cut," says Barton. "They all wear evenly, and the sickle lasts much longer. The beans feed evenly into the combine, not in bunches. Especially when they're standing well, they don't tend to cling to each other."
Barton cuts at about a 45 degree angle to the row. "If your angle is too parallel, you tend to flatten out rows as the divider goes through and some beans won't be picked up. By the same token, too great an angle causes the combine to hump or rock. The divider on the sickle bar should float one to two inches above rows as it passes through. If the divider rides the ground it can flatten some stalks."
It's also important to stay to one side of the field, making the return trip along the same line just completed. "That way if any beans are pushed out with the snoot on the last trip, you'll pick them up. It's also necessary to avoid combining directly into or away from the wind. A crosswind works best to take dust away from you.".
In wet years or when beans are badly lodged, Barton insists that a diagonal path is the only way to go. "Going at an angle allows the tires to grip onto rows. If you go between rows you'll tend to cut in."
Approaching lodged beans from the right angle lets the combine pick them up more easily. "If they're lodged to the right, you want to cut through on your right side. The beans should fall into the field. You don't want them to drop out away from the field, but be supported by the rest of the crop."
Night combining and working weedy fields is particularly easy when soybeans are combined diagonally, because it's less critical to see the rows.
The only problem with diagonal combining is that if stalks are less than 10 1/2 percent moisture, they have a tendency to break off. Barton minimizes this problem by beginning harvest when beans are at 16 to 17 percent moisture.
Barton says he picks up less dirt with a diagonal path, because he's riding on top of the rows. "We've also found that we have less chance of picking up a rock. We tend to just push it back between the rows."

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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #3