"We've totally rebuilt this machine twice. We couldn't pick up enough corn with the first machine to make it worthwhile but now we've reached the point where the farmer benefits and we make a profit," says Gary Resch, inventor-operator of a first-of-its kind down corn harvester first featured in FARM SHOW 3 years ago (Vol. 8, No. 4).
Resch and his crew transports the machine throughout the country to areas where storms or insect infestations have caused serious down corn problems. After combines have harvested as much corn as possible, Resch uses his machine to salvage corn that was missed due to storm damage or corn-borer infestations. The machine picks up virtually all the crop material left in the field and then separates the ears from loose stalks, dirt and rocks. His payment is a percent of whatever is salvaged.
"We have no trouble getting work because there's no risk for the farmer. The corn we save would have been lost without our machine. We have even had farmers ask us to pick up their corn and take it all for payment just so they could get the fields clean and eliminate volunteer corn. It eliminates the herbicide expense needed to control the corn the following year.
The huge machine -- it measures 75 ft. from front to back -- is powered by a 160-hp tractor and carries its own 160-hp diesel engine as well. A front-mount wheel rake pulls in a 25-ft. swath, raking all stalks and loose ears into a windrow that passes under the tractor. The specially-built, variable width rake has rubber-mounted teeth that rake in the ears of corn.
"Depending on how muddy the ground was at harvest, we can pick up 85 to 90% of corn lying on the ground. If most of the crop material lies on the surface, we can pick up nearly 100%," says Resch.
A modified potato chain digger directly behind the tractor picks up the windrow, along with a top layer of dirt and rocks. As the material moves up the inclined chain, dirt and rocks begin to separate and fall through. At the top of the chain, a blast of air generated by two high-capacity 30-in. dia. squirrel cage fans blows stalks and leaves up and out the back of the machine via a 12-ft. long metal chute. Stalks and ears that remain drop onto a second separator made up of widely-spaced conveyor rollers. Air blowing up through the rollers removes most of the remaining stalks and rocks, and then conveys the ears -- and whatever leaves and loose residue remains -- to a set of two conventional husking beds. The husked ears then exit the back to a rear high-dump wagon for transport to a stationary New Idea Uni-System corn sheller that Resch positions somewhere near the field. Once shelled, the farmer-customer simply hauls away the shelled corn.
"The machine requires a tremendous amount of power but we're able to travel consistently at speeds of 3 mph and, under good conditions, up to 5 mph," says Resch. He pays all expenses and splits salvaged corn with the farmer on a progressive scale based on bushels of corn salvaged per acre.
At 30 bu. and below, Resch keeps 75% of the corn and the farmer gets 25%. At 31 to 60 bu. per acre, the ratio changes to 66/33%, at 60 to 80 bu. it's 60/40%, at 81 to 99 bu. the ratio's 55/45%, and at over 100 bu. it's 50/ 50%.
Resch says he'll take the down corn harvester anywhere in the country. He likes to have at least 1,000 acres lined up in any particular area. He can work right on through to spring if conditions permit.